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Can you get fired for taking time off for medical treatment?

You hope it never happens, but there could come a point when you need to take time off of work for medical treatment. It’s your hope that your employer understands your situation and makes life easy on you, but this doesn’t always happen.

In the back of your mind, there will always be a question lurking: Can your employer fire you for taking too much time off?

Generally speaking, an employer has the legal right to terminate an at-will employee if they miss too much work. This holds true even if the person is missing for a legitimate reason, such as medical treatment.

However, there are times when your time away is protected. Take, for example, the following:

  • Sick leave: Thanks to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, if you work 30 or more days a year, the law requires your employer to provide one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. So, if you become sick in the future, you can start by using these days.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Should you qualify for FMLA leave, you can take up to 12 weeks off during a 12-month period to receive medical treatment. It can also be used to care for an immediate family member or a new child. If you’re interested in FMLA, ask your HR department if you qualify and then request leave as far in advance as possible.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act: You may need to take time away from work to deal with a medical condition qualified as a disability by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although this federal law doesn’t grant you the ability to take off as much work as you want, it does require your employer to provide reasonable accommodations.

Your health is more important than anything, so it’s critical to receive medical treatment should it be necessary. If you have concerns about the impact on your employment, discuss your situation with your supervisor, company owner and/or HR department.

In the event that you’re terminated for taking time off for medical treatment, learn more about your legal rights and the action you can take against your former employer.