As a paid employee in this state, there are two specific acts of law that apply to you regarding the ability to take extended time off work for medical or emergency reasons in your family without the risk of losing your job. Firstly, there is the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Next, the West Virginia Parental Leave Act (PLA). The Administrative Rule, under the state’s Division of Personnel, also addresses paid and unpaid leave for qualifying employees.
If you wish to take a leave of absence from your job that qualifies simultaneously under the FMLA, PLA and Administrative Rule, each leave will exhaust concurrently. Common issues that compel employees to take extended leaves under these laws and policies include personal medical care, the health condition of a family member and a call to active duty in the U.S. military for a spouse, son, daughter or parent.
Your employer must fulfill appointing authority responsibilities
Under West Virginia and federal leave-of-absence laws, your employer carries the title of “appointing authority.” This means that he or she is responsible for carrying out all responsibilities and duties associated with the FMLA, PLA and Administrative Rule. A primary duty is to publish all necessary information regarding these laws and policies in the employee handbook or to provide you and your coworkers with written guidance of the same, so that you are fully aware of the benefits to which you may have a right.
If you request a leave of absence under the FMLA, PLA or Administrative Rule, and your employer tells you that you are ineligible, you are entitled to know the exact reason. When you are eligible and take a leave of absence, your employer must immediately restate you to your position at the conclusion of your leave. Your employer may not interfere with or impede your ability to exercise your rights to leave-of-absence benefits under the FMLA, PLA or Administrative Rule.
What to do if that happens
If you believe that you have been wrongfully denied leave-of-absence benefits in West Virginia in accordance with FMLA, PLA or Administrative Rule regulations, several options are available to help resolve the issue. You might consider filing a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division. It may also be possible to file a legal claim in court.
The bottom line is that it’s against the law for an employer to deny you or any worker FMLA, PLA or Administrative Rule leave that qualifies for benefits. Not every employer has coverage under FMLA laws. You’ll want to research this and make sure that your employer is, in fact, covered before filing a complaint.