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Can I be disciplined for taking time off on short notice to care for my sick child?

This depends on whether the FMLA applies to your employer, to you, and to your child’s illness.  Your employer large enough to be covered by the federal FMLA if it has 50 or more employees at or around your workplace (75 for the Connecticut FMLA to apply).  You are covered by the FMLA if you have worked a certain amount over the past year (1000 hours for the Connecticut law to apply, 1250 for the federal law to apply).  Your child’s illness is covered if it is a serious health issue requiring a hospital stay or health care provider’s care.  For a full list of state and federal requirements, see www.dol.gov.If the FMLA applies, then you probably can’t be disciplined for needing to take time off.  The FMLA requires as much notice as possible to the employer, but emergencies occur and the law anticipates that you will not always be able to give notice of the need to be absent.  Be sure to contact your employer as soon as possible.

If you think you are covered by the FMLA and need time like this off, be sure to ask for FMLA paperwork from your employer.  You may have to have a health care provider verify your need for the leave.