When certain situations arise, the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, guarantees employees have the option to take time off work without risk of losing their position. As an employee, it is important you know what your right are. Not every employee qualifies for FMLA, and only certain situations are eligible for a leave of absence. The following is just a simple guide to introduce you to the basics of the FMLA regulations. By taking a look, you will have the working information you need to be prepared, but in the case of taking advantage of a FMLA leave, you may want to conduct some more in-depth research.
Before employees can request time off, they should know who is eligible for FMLA leave. First, an employee must work for an employer who has at least 50 employees. Additionally, the employee needs to work in a location within 75 miles of the facility with 50 employees or more. Second, the employee needs to have worked with this employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours in that period of time. If all of these requirements are met, the employee is eligible for a FMLA leave.
However, there is a short list of situations that qualify an eligible employee to actually take a FMLA leave. One or more of the following must be true:
- The employee will be caring for a newborn child, or foster or adoptive care has been given to the employee.
- Either the employee or one of the employee’s close family members requires serious medical attention.
- Either the employee or one of the employee’s close family members is starting active military duty.
If all requirements are met, the employee may take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act and receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid vacation. In the case of military duty, this limit is extended up to 26 weeks. Remember, the amount of vacation time guaranteed by the FMLA is limited to 12 weeks each year, so the system cannot be abused. Additionally, if the employer has a paid vacation time option, employees are allowed to substitute their unpaid time off for a paid leave.
Types of Absence
There are two types of absences detailed in the FMLA requirements:
- foreseeable and unforeseeable.
- Foreseeable absence” If the reason for taking a FMLA leave is foreseeable, the employee is required to provide 30 days advance notice, if possible. Even if an absence is considered foreseeable, federal law only requires advance notice to be given “as soon as practical.” Foreseeable situations include expected childbirth or scheduled medical procedures. Sometimes it is still impossible to give 30 full days advance notice or foreseeable reasons for absence are moved up unexpectedly.
- Unforeseeable absence” These kinds of absences do not require 30 days advance notice, but still require “as soon as practical” notice. These include medical emergencies, sudden illnesses, or children born prematurely.
The definition of whether an absence is foreseeable or unforeseeable is intentionally vague. It is intended for the specific circumstances and details to determine whether it was possible to foresee the events.
Requirements for Leave
The federal FMLA law requires employees to follow the standard sick leave operations of the employer. Additionally, employees must provide sufficient information about their reason for leaving. It is not required that the employee request an FMLA leave specifically or by name, but the “sufficient information” they provide must be enough for the employer to determine whether it is qualified for FMLA. Finally, some employers may choose to require certification of their need to leave. This requirement cannot prevent employees from leaving in the case of unforeseeable absences. The FMLA must always guarantee employees have the opportunity to take time off work for special circumstances.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.