The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family or personal medical issues. During this leave, the employee is entitled to continue the company’s health insurance plan at the same cost as when they were working (some companies have a policy of paying the employee portion of the insurance premium). After the leave ends, the employee is entitled to be reinstated at the same or an equivalent job.
If the employee is not ready to return after the twelve-week period, there are a few potential outcomes. The company may be willing to extend the employee’s leave. They are not required to do this, and they may have a policy that has different benefits than the FMLA. For instance, the employee may be expected to pay the company’s contribution to their health insurance plan as well as their own. You will have to contact your companies Human Resources or Benefits department to understand the company policy.
Another option is to consider if you qualify for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To qualify for ADA, you will have to provide your company with more medical details than you do with the FMLA. Even if your condition does qualify for ADA, your job is not as protected as it is by FMLA. Your company could argue that your absence is creating an “undue hardship” for them. This could allow them to terminate your employment.
Unless you know your dealings will be contentious, your first step should be to reach out to your company to see how they want to handle the situation. An open dialog is your best bet to find a solution that works for both sides. If for some reason you think the interaction will not go well, it is important that you understand what policies your company has in place. The policies may be written in a way that gives them leeway on how to act, but it is important that follow their policies.