On taking medical leave, what’s the law?

Wondering how federal, state and local laws affect medical leave?

LawMany of these laws only apply if a business has a certain number of employees. For instance, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the federal law that requires employers to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child, is applicable only to businesses with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

Under the employment provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employee of a dental office with 15 or more employees cannot be disqualified from a position based on a disability (for example, using a wheelchair) as long as the employee can perform the job duties with or without reasonable accommodations. A normal pregnancy typically does not constitute a disability, however.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate against or harass an individual because of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, or pregnancy. This act also protects the employees of a dental office from discrimination in the terms and conditions of their employment if they have 20 or more employees.

Keep in mind that some s tates have their own family and medical leave laws and discrimination statutes, which may expand the coverage of such laws to smaller employers. Be sure to check out which laws apply to your practice or state.

Remember: If you find yourself in a situation where you need to take leave, the best thing you can do is talk to your employer and communicate with your patients. For additional information about laws that can affect dentistry, visit ADA.org.

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