Employment Laws: What You Need to Know About Medical and Disability-Related Leave

By Katherine Muniz
September 21, 2016

If you’re an employer, are you up-to-date and in-the-know about the laws that govern how you’re required to handle medical and disability-related employee leave?

Here at FingerCheck, we want to help you catch up on your need-to-know compliance requirements as fast as possible, especially when it pertains to our territory, time, and attendance. For a quick lesson on the three acts that regulate medical and disability-related leave, read on.


  • The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal labor law that was created in order to provide employees with disabilities with equal employment opportunities.
  • In order to give job applicants and employees with a disability the same access to work, employers are expected to make reasonable accommodations to the workplace and the way things are “customarily done” to afford these individuals fair opportunities.
  • If an employee with a disability needs to take a leave of absence for reasons related to their disability, covered employers (employers with 15 or more employees) must provide leave so long as it does not create an undue hardship for the employer.
  • Employees taking leave as a “reasonable accommodation” are expected to return to work following the period of leave.
  • If requested, employers must make reasonable accommodations in order to facilitate the employee’s return to work, so long as it does not create an undue hardship for the employer.
  • Employees who can no longer perform one or more essential functions of their current job must be assigned to a vacant position for which they are qualified.


  • The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal labor law that was created in order to provide employees with job-protected leave under specified family and medical reasons.
  • Covered employers include private-sector employers that employ 50 or more employees (in 20 or more workweeks in the current or previous calendar year), public agencies, and local educational agencies (schools). The Office of Personnel Management and the Wage and Hour Division administers the FMLA for most federal employees. There are other employers that may be covered under the FMLA — see the Employer Guide for more details.
  • Eligible employees (see the Employer Guide for more details) may take up to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for one of the following reasons:
Qualifying Reasons for Leave
The birth of a son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care, and to bond with the newborn or newly-placed child;
To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition, including incapacity due to pregnancy and for prenatal medical care;
For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job, including incapacity due to pregnancy and for prenatal medical care; or
For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status
  • In addition to providing leave, employers must maintain employees’ health benefits during leave.
  • As long as the employee has not gone beyond the 12-week allotment of leave, the employer must restore the employee to the same job that the employee held when the leave began or to an “equivalent job” which is virtually identical to the original job in terms of pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions (including shift and location).
  • The employer cannot retaliate or refuse to take the employee back.

Workers’ Compensation

  • The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) is a federal labor law that provides wage benefits and/or medical care for workers who are injured or become ill as a direct result of their job, called Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
  • Unlike the FMLA and ADA, Workers’ Compensation is regulated by state laws. Most of these laws do not require reinstatement after workers’ comp leave. However, many state laws do require employers to offer rehabilitation and training services to workers injured on the job, says Small Business Encyclopedia.
  • Employers are typically required to purchase an insurance policy to handle their statutory obligations to workers who are injured or made ill due to workplace exposure.
  • The FECA also provides payment of benefits to dependents of the employee if the injury or disease caused the employee’s death.

As a law-abiding employer, you’ve got quite a lot to deal with. However, complying with all the requirements of the law may not be as intensive as you think. With this article as your guide, along with other online resources, you can educate yourself on how to navigate all leave-related matters. For further assistance, seek legal counsel.

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