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When Companies Must Pay For Sick Time

(File photo)

(File photo)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Is your company legally obligated to give you time off for medical treatment?

Here’s a company not likely to win the humanitarian of the year award: after a Wisconsin woman diagnosed with breast cancer advised her supervisor of her need for treatment, she was promptly fired. And, while morally that may put the company up there with those who kick dogs and steal candy from babies, legally what can and what can’t a company do when faced with the serious illness of an employee?

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, a person who has worked for more than a year at a company may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a serious health condition. But if an employee isn’t eligible for FMLA, his or her job may be in jeopardy if the employee’s out of vacation time.

If an illness is considered a disability, an employer may be required to make reasonable accommodations such as giving an employee an alternative work schedule so he can go to treatment, but where attendance at the job site is a bona fide occupational qualification or an employee can’t work at all, the law won’t require what your morals might: time off to get well instead of termination.