Few things are more stressful than having a close family member suffer from a serious illness or injury. This can be made even more scary if your employer is less than understanding. Many employers are loathe to give employees time off to care for a family member. This conflict between life and work may leave employees vulnerable to wrongful termination
In order to protect employees from getting fired if they need time off to care for a child, spouse or parent, federal lawmakers passed the Family and Medical Leave Act. The law allows some employees to take time off in certain situations where they must recover from illness or care for a loved one.
In order to qualify for leave under the FMLA an employee must have worked at the company for at least one year, have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous year and work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees with 75 miles.
You may take 12 weeks of leave in a year if you or your partner want to take time off when you have a baby. Some companies will pay a portion of that leave but they are not required to under the law.
You may take 26 weeks of leave if you need to take care of a parent, spouse or child, or if you are a servicemember with a serious medical concern. This leave will often not be paid by your employer but it does guarantee that you won't lose your job for taking time off.
Source: USNews, "Understanding your rights under FMLA," Lindsay Olson, March 12, 2013