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After having a new baby enter your home, you may want to take several weeks off of work. The Family and Medical Leave Act  provides certain employees with the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave on an annual basis.

If you take FMLA leave, your employer cannot legally fire you because you chose to take this time off. But you can still lose your job if layoffs occur or if your employer discovers a reason to fire you.

The layoff process

Under the FMLA, you have the right to go back to your old job (or a comparable one) after you come back from leave. Beyond this, you do not have additional employment rights than if you had not taken leave.

For example, if your company lays off your entire department while you are on parental leave, you do not have a right to a job when you go back to work. Even if you did not take FMLA leave, your employer would still have let you go from your position.

Firing for cause

Your employer also has the right to fire you during FMLA leave, but only for reasons unrelated to you taking time off. For example, if your employer alleges you committed serious misconduct before you left on leave, he or she may terminate your position. Your employer can only do this legally if he or she has a legitimate, independent reason to fire you outside of you taking time away from work for parental leave.