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FMLA 101 – Tennessee Maternity Leave

Posted by Tamara

Tennessee does not have its own family or maternity leave laws at the state level, so employers must follow the guidelines of the federal FMLA.

FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993) provides employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks every12 month period. FMLA also guarantees that the employee will still have a job when he or she returns to work. This federal law doesn’t mandate that employers keep a worker’s job open during FMLA leave, but that the employee is given either the same job or one with comparable duties, salary and benefits upon his or her return.

FMLA also mandates that a Tennessee employee on FMLA leave cannot be terminated. Nor can the worker’s absence be counted as non-attendance for disciplinary reasons.

Employers with 50 or more workers within 75 miles are covered by FMLA. Workers for these companies may take FMLA leave for one of three reasons:

  1. The employee has a serious health condition.
  2. The employee must care for a spouse, parent of child (under 18) who has a serious health condition.
  3. The employee has a newborn baby, has newly adopted a child, or a foster child has been newly placed within his or her home. (Applies to the child’s first year after birth or placement).

Under FMLA, “serious health condition” applies to many different situations. Mental illness such as bipolar disorder and depression may be serious health conditions, as well as drug addiction and alcoholism. Pregnancy is considered a serious health condition, as are cancer, stroke, heart attack, etc.

In addition, a health condition which requires continuing medical treatment, hospitalization or surgery may be classified as a serious health condition.

While on FMLA leave, the employee’s group health insurance must be continued as it was when the worker was actively on the job. The employer is required to continue to pay its portion of the premium, and the employee may be required to pay his or her portion, as well.



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