The Family and Medical Leave Act gives eligible employees the right to up to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period. Probably the most important part of FMLA leave is the “protected” aspect—the right, when your leave ends, to be restored to your old job or an equivalent position. Unfortunately, that is not always as straightforward as it sounds, and many employees have been surprised by what was waiting for them at the end of their FMLA leave. An employer that does not return you to work as required by law may be liable for interfering in your FMLA rights.
This article looks at what that “return to work” requirement involves, what your rights as an employee are when it comes to returning from FMLA leave, and some things you might be able to do to protect those rights.
If you are entitled to FMLA leave, your employer has to return you to work at the end of that leave*. But there are some proactive steps you can take to protect that right. An employer may not be required to return you to work if you overstay your leave. Because of that, to play it safe an employee should contact their employer before their leave ends if they have not heard from their employer. First, you can make it clear you plan to return at the end of your leave. Second, you can ask about the details of your return: things like your schedule and what your job will look like when you come back. And of course, you should actually report to work promptly after your leave ends.