724-841-5565 neva@nstotlerlaw.com

What You Need to Know About Furloughed Employees and FMLA Qualifications?


The challenges of the pandemic will affect the rest of 2021. Last year, businesses sought to comply with evolving laws regarding a safe working environment, essential and non-essential employees, and how to manage a remote workforce. While the vaccine and lifting restrictions enable more workers to come back to the office, the after-effects of the coronavirus still pose challenges for employers. For example, workers who were furloughed may no longer qualify for FMLA.

How does the Pandemic Will Affect leave in 2021 in Pennsylvania?

Covid caused large numbers of furloughed workers across Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. As furloughed employees make their way back to the workforce, many will find they no longer qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The FMLA provides federally mandated, unpaid leave for employees with qualifying medical or family issues. Employers must provide an employee with up to 12 weeks (leave times for caring for covered service members or for families of covered servicemembers maybe longer) of leave for;

  • The birth of a child
  • Adoption of a child
  • To care for an immediate family member with serious health issues
  • To care for a covered servicemember
  • Or to take care of themselves if they suffer from a serious health condition

Workers are eligible if they worked 1,250 hours over the previous 12-month period. However, employees may not be eligible for FMLA in 2021 if they did not work enough hours in the previous year due to pandemic-related layoffs. Anticipating ahead of the issue how you will address leave issues in 2021 and possibly into 2022 will promote a less rocky transition for employees who return to the office.

How Other Laws May Protect Employee Leave?

Remember if an employee does not qualify for FMLA, he, she or they may be eligible for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or state equivalent laws may cover a leave of absence request, depending on several circumstances, including whether the person has a disability, the length of time of the leave request, prior accommodations made by the employer, and the nature of the business. The ADA does not have a minimum service requirement. Regardless of the outcome of the request, employers covered by the ADA or state equivalent must go through an interactive process, a formalized, documented discussion, to determine whether 1) the employee is disabled, and 2) whether the accommodation is reasonable.

Other state laws may apply if the employee does not meet the requirements set by the ADA. It is best to consult with a knowledgeable employment law attorney to help face this unique challenge.

Why N. Stotler Law?

Knowing and the ins and outs of employment law are crucial to operating your business successfully. However, many business owners do not have an in-house human resources department. Attorney Neva Stotler has extensive experience helping companies navigate employment law. Whether you have one employee or several hundred, maintaining and managing a workforce during a pandemic poses unique challenges. When you need an expert employment law attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you need N. Stotler Law.

Contact us for a consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 724-841-5565.

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