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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): FAQ

Which Employees Are Eligible To Take FMLA Leave?

Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, and have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

What Administrative Body May Impose Remedies For A Violation Of The Federal Family And Medical Leave Act?

The United States Secretary of Labor, through the Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration, has administrative jurisdiction. The Department of Labor will review the merits of the complaint and attempt to negotiate and resolve the complaint administratively with the employer. If the Secretary of Labor is convinced that a violation has occurred, and in the event attempts to resolve the matter with the employer are not successful.

Are There Any Restrictions On How I Spend My Time While On Leave?

Employers with established policies regarding outside employment while on paid or unpaid leave may uniformly apply those policies to employees on FMLA leave. Otherwise, the employer may not restrict your activities. The protections of FMLA will not, however, cover situations where the reason for leave no longer exists, where the employee has not provided required notices or certifications, or where the employee has misrepresented the reason for leave.

If An Employer Fails To Tell Employees That The Leave Is Fmla Leave, Can The Employer Count The Time They Have Already Been Off Against The 12 Weeks Of FMLA Leave?

In most situations, the employer cannot count leave as FMLA leave retroactively. Remember, the employee must be notified in writing that an absence is being designated as FMLA leave. If the employer was not aware of the reason for the leave, leave may be designated as FMLA leave retroactively only while the leave is in progress or within two business days of the employee's return to work.

How Is The 12-Month Period Calculated Under FMLA?

Employers may select one of four options for determining the 12­month period:

  • the calendar year;
  • any fixed 12­month "leave year" such as a fiscal year, a year required by state law, or a year starting on the employee's "anniversary" date;
  • the 12­month period measured forward from the date any employee's first FMLA leave begins; or
  • a "rolling" 12­month period measured backward from the date an employee uses FMLA leave.

Can My Employer Require Me To Return To Work Before I Exhaust My Leave?

Subject to certain limitations, your employer may deny the continuation of FMLA leave due to a serious health condition if you fail to fulfill any obligations to provide supporting medical certification. The employer may not, however, require you to return to work early by offering you a light duty assignment.

Can an Employer Count Leave Taken Due To Pregnancy Complications Against The 12 Weeks Of FMLA Leave For The Birth And Care Of My Child?

Yes. An eligible employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12­month period. If the employee has to use some of that leave for another reason, including a difficult pregnancy, it may be counted as part of the 12­week FMLA leave entitlement.

Does Workers Compensation Leave Count Against An Employees FMLA Leave Entitlement?

It can. FMLA leave and workers' compensation leave can run together, provided the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury and the employer properly notifies the employee in writing that the leave will be counted as FMLA leave.

May I Take FMLA Leave For Visits To A Physical Therapist, If My Doctor Prescribes The Therapy?

Yes. FMLA permits you to take leave to receive "continuing treatment by a health care provider," which can include recurring absences for therapy treatments such as those ordered by a doctor for physical therapy after a hospital stay or for treatment of severe arthritis.

Do I Have To Give My Employer My Medical Records For Leave Due To A Serious Health Condition?

No. You do not have to provide medical records. The employer may, however, request that, for any leave taken due to a serious health condition, you provide a medical certification confirming that a serious health condition exists.

Can My Employer Fire Me For Complaining About A Violation Of FMLA?

No. Nor can the employer take any other adverse employment action on this basis. It is unlawful for any employer to discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee for opposing a practice made unlawful under FMLA.

Can My Employer Refuse To Grant Me FMLA Leave?

If you are an "eligible" employee who has met FMLA's notice and certification requirements (and you have not exhausted your FMLA leave entitlement for the year), you may not be denied FMLA leave.

How Much Leave Am I Entitled To Under FMLA?

If you are an "eligible" employee, you are entitled to 12 weeks of leave for certain family and medical reasons during a 12­month period.

Do The 1,250 Hours Include Paid Leave Time Or Other Absences From Work?

No. The 1,250 hours include only those hours actually worked for the employer. Paid leave and unpaid leave, including FMLA leave, are not included.

Do The 12 Months Of Service With The Employer Have To Be Continuous Or Consecutive?

No. The 12 months do not have to be continuous or consecutive; all time worked for the employer is counted.

Can My Employer Count FMLA Leave I Take Against A No Fault Absentee Policy?


Get Help from an Experienced Employment Law Attorney

Have you been discriminated against by a potential or current employer -- as a job applicant or current employee? To best protect your legal rights you should discuss your situation with an employment lawyer. Meet with a local family medical leave act (fmla) attorney sooner rather than later to protect your rights.

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