FMLA: Can I be forced to take unpaid leave?

My son was born 16 weeks early. He will be coming home soon, will be on a ventilator, and will require extra care. My employer allows employees to take up to eight days of sick leave each year for the care of family members. I have 120+ days of accumulated sick leave. Is there a way, under the FMLA, or otherwise, that I could use part of my sick leave to help with the care of my son, or am I forced to take unpaid leave? Can I be forced to take unpaid leave to care for my child if I have accumulated paid sick leave?


You will probably be forced to take unpaid leave. The FMLA allows employers to restrict the substitution of paid leave for unpaid family leave. The employer may place limits on the substitution. Therefore, it is likely that you will not be allowed to substitute sick leave. You may substitute vacation and other forms of paid leave.

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