While some states mandate that employers provide a certain number of paid or unpaid sick leave for employees per year, Georgia – at least in the private sector – is not among them. Public employees accrue five hours of sick leave per pay period by law, but employees of private employers are entitled to no such benefit.
This may leave many workers in Georgia unsure what their options are if they become seriously ill. Can you get fired for being sick too much? Is it illegal to fire someone with a doctor’s note? Because Georgia is an at-will employment state, the answers to both of those questions is an unnerving “maybe.”
At Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, we can advocate for employees who felt like their rights at work were violated. If you were fired because you were sick at work, you probably have other questions such as “Can I sue my employer if I’m fired for being sick?” that you want answered. While it’s always possible to take your employer to task for unlawful and unsafe business practices, you should consult with an attorney about your specific situation before taking legal action.
Your Rights Under the Family & Medical Leave Act
While Georgia doesn’t provide private employees with sick leave protections of any kind, that doesn’t mean none exist at the federal level. In fact, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides the kind of leave most Americans may need to take at least once in their lives. That’s because it can be claimed when you need to care for a new child, your own serious illness, or a relative’s serious illness.
FMLA leave is protected unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks for each eligible employee of a protected employer. Let’s break down what exactly that means:
- Protected leave means that when you go on FMLA leave, you can expect to return to your employer and working in the same or an equivalent position with the same pay and benefits you enjoyed before you went on leave.
- Unpaid leave does what it says on the tin, so to speak: Your employer is not obligated to compensate you while you are on FMLA leave.
- Up to 12 weeks means you can use about three months’ worth of time to for an eligible purpose
- Eligible employees are those who have worked for a covered employer for at least a total of 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to beginning leave; work somewhere where the employer has 50 or more other workers within 75 miles; and has worked for the employer for at least 12 total months.
- Covered employers include private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or prior calendar year, and all public agencies at the local, state, and federal level.
In theory, not every employee in Georgia will qualify for FMLA leave, but your employer could be hiding facts about your employment or their company to prevent employees like you from taking leave. If you think you should qualify for FMLA leave to care for yourself when you’re sick, reach out to the attorneys of Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for help.
If you want help figuring out if you might have a valid claim, contact the attorneys of Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for help.