Is My Florida Employer Required To Give Me Time Off For Medical Reasons?
Dealing with a medical issue is complicated—especially so for those who have work obligations. This raises an important question: Is an employer in Florida required to give you time off for medical reasons? The short answer is “it depends”—there is no guaranteed right to sick leave under Florida law, but some employees have rights under federal law, a contract, or internal office policies. In this article, you will find an overview of your right (or lack thereof) to take time off from work for medical reasons in Florida.
Florida Does Not Have a Guaranteed Sick Leave or Medical Leave Law
As a starting point, it is important to clarify that Florida does not have a state-level guaranteed sick leave or medical leave law. There is no state statute that requires employers in Florida to provide sick leave to workers—either paid or unpaid. While some states have set up unpaid and paid medical leave laws, Florida lacks any such statute.
Florida Employers With 50 or More Workers are Covered By the Federal FMLA
Some workers in Florida are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is a federal statute that guarantees job-protected, unpaid leave to employees who have a qualifying medical condition. Broadly speaking, the FMLA applies to employers in Florida with 50 or more employees who work at least 20 weeks during the year.
If your company is covered by the FMLA and you have a qualifying medical condition, you have a legally guaranteed right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. You cannot be terminated or otherwise punished by your employer for exercising your right to take FMLA leave. If you face any problems taking your leave, an experienced Florida FMLA lawyer can help.
Note: An employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours within the last 12 months to be eligible to take job-protected leave under the FMLA.
Employees May Have Leave Rights Under a Contract and/or Discretionary Employer Policy
Finally, it is also important to emphasize that employees in Florida may have certain sick leave or medical leave rights under an employment contract or a discretionary policy set up by an employer. As a general rule, employers are required to abide by the terms of a valid employment contract and the terms of a discretionary leave policy.
An employee who has been denied medical leave—either paid or unpaid—in violation of an employment agreement or a discretionary policy may have a viable legal claim. They claim for breach of contract or, potentially, for discrimination. For example, if some male workers are typically approved leave but your leave, as a female worker was denied, you may have a discrimination claim.
Get Help From an Employment Law Attorney in Florida
Dealing with a medical issue is challenging—especially so if you are having problems with your employer. If you have any specific questions or concerns about your right to take paid or unpaid medical leave in Florida, contact an experienced Florida employment lawyer for help.