Time Off for Heart Condition Might Qualify Employee for FMLA

Q: I recently had a serious heart problem. I was hospitalized, released and then re-admitted. I think I am now ready to resume full-time work. I work as a Director at a large biotech firm. I am worried about job security as I work for a man who is a Type A and does not like when anyone is out sick. How can I protect myself?

A: I am sorry that you had a serious health issue. It sounds like it was frightening. I can share a few recommendations.

First, make sure that you are physically ready to return to a full-time schedule. Discuss the demands of your job with your physician. You will want to make sure that you are ready to return so you don’t have another relapse. Your employer will likely request a note from your physician ensuring that you are physically able to fulfill the demands of your job. Your physician may request a gradual re-entry back to work. I have noticed many physicians request one week of a part-time schedule before resuming a full-time schedule.

If you work at a large firm, you may be protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA is a federal law which provides job-protected leave for certain conditions to eligible employees. One of the conditions is an employee’s own serious health condition. Your heart problem, and related hospitalization, likely qualify as a serious health condition. To be eligible for a FMLA leave, your employer must employee 50 or more workers. Additionally, you must have worked for at least 12 months for your employer and you must have worked at least 1250 hours in the 12 months prior to your heart condition. You also must have worked at a location where your employer has 50 employees within 75 miles of that work site. For more information about FMLA, review to better understand your rights and your employer’s obligations.


Your manager’s attitude is disappointing. There are challenges in all of our lives which necessitate time off from work. One way to mitigate his concerns is to develop a written update upon your return. This will reduce your manager’s concerns about anything “slipping through the cracks.” Best wishes for your continued recovery!

by Pattie Hunt Sinacole, First Beacon Group LLC

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