The Family and Medical Leave Act is a critical protection for many employees who need maternity leave, medical leave for their own serious health condition, or leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. That said, as Ohio FMLA lawyers, we often see the Act’s limits. For one thing, it doesn’t protect every employee of every employer. For another, even when it does apply, the FMLA only gives employees 12 weeks of job-protected leave. But what if an employee still needs more time off after 12 weeks? Will the employee lose their job? Not necessarily.

If the employee is on leave because of their own medical condition, they might be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Ohio disability discrimination laws. Those laws require employers to make reasonable accommodations of an employee’s disability in many situations. One common type of accommodation is medical leave. So an employee who needs more time off after their FMLA runs out might be entitled to more protected leave as an accommodation of a disability.

What should I do if I need more time after my FMLA runs out?

There are a few things employees who need more medical leave after the FMLA runs out need to do to protect their jobs.

The first is to make clear to the employer that the employee needs more leave because of a medical condition. Though the employer already knows the employee is on medical leave, it’s best to leave no doubt the employee is requesting additional leave for a medical reason. Communicating that by email is a good way to make sure there is evidence the employee put the employer on notice.

It’s also critical for employees or their doctors to give an estimated date for the employee to return to work. Employers aren’t required to hold an employee’s job open indefinitely under the disability discrimination laws. Although it will depend on the specific situation, additional leave of a few months’ might be a protected reasonable accommodation. But the disability discrimination laws will rarely, if ever, require employers to grant a leave in excess of a year.

Employees should also think about whether they can return to work with some other sort of reasonable accommodation besides additional leave. For instance, perhaps the employee return to work on light duty or with more frequent breaks. There are many, many other examples of reasonable accommodations that might allow the employee to return to work after FMLA runs out. If such an appropriate accommodation besides more leave exists, the employer may have the right to offer only that accommodation instead.

FMLA lawyers for Ohio employees

If your employer refuses to grant you more medical leave after your FMLA runs out, you might have a disability discrimination claim. To understand your rights and protect yourself, call the Ohio FMLA lawyers at Bolek Besser Glesius for help.