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Family Medical Leave Act: Rights for Family Caregivers

Everyone who has ever been a long-term caregiver for a sick family member knows just how mentally and physically taxing this role can be. In some cases, it means having to leave full-time employment in order to become an unpaid, 24 hour caregiver in Albuquerque.

If you find yourself in this situation and are thinking you might need to hand in your resignation in order to care for your aging loved one, be sure to educate yourself on your rights as a family caregiver under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 before you proceed. Doing so can significantly ease the burden of caring for someone with a chronic condition by lessening your own worries about financial stability. Two of the most important things to know about FMLA are:

  1. You have the right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year. In a nutshell, this means that you have the right to return to the job you had before taking FMLA leave when your leave period ends. You also have the right to choose when you will take the unpaid leave to which you are entitled, which means that your 12 weeks of leave may be taken all at once or intermittently during the year as needed.
  1. You qualify if you worked at your job for at least 12 months or 1,250 hours prior to taking FMLA leave. Since full-time salaried employees are typically paid for 2,000 hours each year, this means that many part-time employees can take advantage as well. Seasonal work also counts, since it’s not necessary to have worked at your job for 12 consecutive months; however, if you had a break in employment lasting more than seven years, the period prior to the seven-year break may not be counted toward the 12-month minimum.

Taking care of a loved one on a long-term basis can be mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting, but it need not place undue burdens on your personal finances due to job loss. The rights afforded to you as an employee may prove invaluable in helping you to strike a balance between work and caregiving. For more information, access the Department of Labor’s FMLA Employee Guide here.

And if you find that you still need additional help caring for your aging parent or loved one, know that you don’t have to do it alone. Home Care Assistance is a trusted provider of Albuquerque home care, offering flexible hourly and live-in care schedules for families who need a helping hand managing their loved one’s care needs. We offer complimentary consultations where you can learn more about our home care options, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 505-798-0800 with any questions you may have.