FMLA Leave: What Happens Next?

May 25 2022

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh!

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda! What are we talking about today?

DeMatteis: I thought we could talk about the FMLA. So, a number of Connecticut employees, and really employees all across the country, take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act. A lot of times, folks go out on leave, and then they come to this period where they’re either ready to go back to work at the conclusion of their leave or they’ve run out of leave time. And people are left saying, “What do I do now?” I thought maybe we could help them answer that question a bit.

Goodbaum: Yeah, two big questions here. First: Can my employer keep me from coming back from FMLA leave, or do they have to let me come back from FMLA leave? And second: If my employer lets me come back from FMLA leave, what job am I entitled to?

Okay, let’s take those questions in order.

First, in general, your employer cannot prevent you from returning from FMLA leave. If there’s been a layoff while you’re on leave that has nothing to do with your FMLA status, then that termination is valid. But otherwise, you’re entitled to come back to work.

If your employer had concerns about your ability to do the job – that is, whether you can safely do the job because you’ve been out dealing with your own serious health condition – then they’re allowed to have a policy requiring a fitness for duty certification from a physician. But this policy must be uniform, and it must be uniformly applied. You must be notified of it in advance and provided a list of the essential functions for your position so that your physician or other healthcare provider can complete the certification.

Employers are also allowed to require this certification periodically for employees who are taking intermittent FMLA leave – that is, leave not all at once, but a periodic leave every now and then. So, the employer can prevent you from returning to the job if it’s not safe for you to do the job or you can’t do the job because of your health condition. Otherwise, they’ve got to let you come back.

Once they’re letting you come back from FMLA leave, what job do they have to give you? The answer is the same or an equivalent job. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same job, but it must be virtually identical in all material respects. That means basically the same – the same in all the important ways in terms of pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions.

So, if you work a shift, you’ve got to get the same shift. If you work at a particular location of the employer, you have to be returned to that same location of the employer. You’re entitled to the same terms of pay, the same pay rate, and the same opportunity to work overtime as you had before you went out on leave. You’re entitled to have your compensation increased as a result of any across-the-board raises or bonuses that were granted to everybody else while you were out on leave – for example, a cost of living adjustment. And you’re entitled to have all of your benefits reinstated without the need to requalify for any of those benefits.

You’re not the same as somebody who is starting a new job. You’re a person who is just picking up where they left off before the FMLA leave, and therefore you’re entitled to be treated just as you were when you went out on your FMLA leave.

DeMatteis: Great information. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. See you next time.

Share this Post

amanda dematteis fmla leave

About the Author

Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C.

Advocating for Employees
since 1977

Best Lawyers

Let Us Review Your Case

    We will respond to your message promptly. Although we will keep your message strictly confidential, please note that contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

    Client Experiences

    During a very difficult employment situation, I was referred to Joe Garrison. Recognizing the volatile and time sensitive nature of my employment situation, Mr. Garrison met with me immediately (on the weekend no less). He listened to the details of my case, was able to think through possible creative solutions to offer the employer, and was responsive to my myriad of questions. He understood my concerns about litigation versus settlement, and he worked to find the best resolution possible. I am grateful to have had his support at a very difficult time. —J.C., New Haven, CT

    You will never meet a more knowledgeable and compassionate professional than Steve Fitzgerald. My employment situation was very complex, and Attorney Fitzgerald kept me focused while remaining extremely adept and “thinking on his feet.” Should the need present itself again, I would never seek anyone else’s counsel regarding employment issues. I cannot recommend him highly enough. — J.R., New Haven, CT

    Nina Pirrotti provided outstanding legal advice and was trustworthy, dependable, and responsive. From the start, I was confident that her knowledge and experience would obtain favorable results. On a more personal note, I enjoyed working with her and her staff and felt I was included in every part of the process. The dedication, concern, and interest in me as a client was greatly appreciated, and Nina has earned my highest recommendation. — J.H., Monroe, CT

    I recently found myself in need of a lawyer in handling a dispute with my former employer. I was fortunate to retain Josh Goodbaum as my legal counsel. His legal skills knowledge and professionalism shone through in every step of the process resulting in a very positive result. I highly recommend Josh if you find yourself in need of legal counsel. — S.R., Guilford, CT

    When I go to a lawyer for advice, I am usually anxious, particularly the first meeting. Amanda DeMatteis was clear in describing my options and immediately set me at ease. Realistic assessment is important, and Amanda was clear as to how to set up the case and the direction she felt we should go. I had total confidence in her abilities and knew I was being well represented against a large corporation. More importantly, we were successful! —N.M., Haddam, CT

    Advocating for Employees since 1977

    American Law Institute Super Lawyers American College of Trial Lawyers Best Lawyers The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
    Back to Top
    (203) 815-1716