Although you are not working while on medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, you are still employed and ineligible for unemployment benefits. Unemployment insurance is targeted to those who have lost their jobs.
Family and Medical Leave Act
The federal law allows employees to take up to 12 weeks off work for medical reasons or to care for a family member. If the family member is in the military, employees can take up to 26 weeks. The time off is unpaid; however, your employer is required to pay accumulated vacation or sick time if he requires you to use it as part of your leave. Your health benefits and job remain intact while you're away. To be eligible for FMLA, you must have worked at your current job for at least 12 months, completed at least 1,250 work hours within the past year and work at a location with 50 or more employees within 75 miles.
You can use FMLA for time off to give birth, care for a newborn baby or bring an adopted or foster child into your home. Leave can be used to care for a close family member -- spouse, parent, child -- with a serious health problem. If you have a serious health condition that leaves you unable to work, you can also take time off under FMLA.
Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment insurance is available to people who are out of work through no fault of their own, yet ready and willing to work. While out under FMLA, you are still employed.
Application for Unemployment Benefits
Although state rules vary, you can typically apply for unemployment benefits if your leave under FMLA has ended and you are still unable to return to work. However, to increase the likelihood of your application being approved, wait until you are physically able and ready to work again before applying for unemployment.