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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): FAQ

Who Can Take FMLA Leave?

To be eligible for FMLA leave, you will need to have been at your job for more than 12 months and worked for at least 1,250 hours during that time. That averages out to about 24 hours a week.

Your company must have at least 50 employees for you and your coworkers to qualify for FMLA leave.

How Much Leave am I Entitled to Under FMLA?

If you are an “eligible” employee, you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons during a 12­-month 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. 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.

Who Do I File a Complaint With if My Employer Messes With My FMLA Leave?

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration has jurisdiction over FMLA complaints. The Department of Labor will review the merits of the claim and attempt to negotiate and resolve the complaint administratively with your employer before taking harsher action.

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

If your company has an established policy about outside employment while on paid or unpaid leave, this will apply to your FMLA leave. That means you can't take up a side job for extra money. Otherwise, your employer may not restrict your activities.

FMLA protections will not, however, cover situations where the reason for leave no longer exists, where you have not provided required notices or certifications, or where you have misrepresented the reason for leave.

If My Boss Doesn't Tell Me That My Leave is FMLA Leave, Can They Count That Time Against My FMLA 12 Weeks?

In most situations, your employer cannot count your leave as FMLA leave retroactively. Remember, your employer must notify you in writing that they are designating an absence as FMLA leave.

If your employer was not aware of the reason for the leave, leave may be designated as FMLA leave retroactively only while your leave is in progress or within two business days of your return to work.

How Is The 12-Month Period Calculated Under FMLA?

Employers may select one of four options for determining the 12-­month period that you have been on the job before qualifying for FMLA leave:

  • The calendar year
  • Any fixed 12-­month “leave year” such as a fiscal year, a year required by state law, or a year starting on your “anniversary” date
  • The 12-­month period measured forward from the date your first FMLA leave begins
  • A “rolling” 12-­month period measured backward from the date you use FMLA leave

Can My Boss Make Me Come Back To Work Before I Use My 12 Weeks of FMLA Leave?

Your employer can require you to come back to work if you are unable to provide supporting medical evidence for your absence. They cannot, however, make you come back by giving you a “light duty” assignment. You are free to turn that down.

Can My Employer Count Leave Taken Because of Pregnancy Complications Against the 12 Weeks Of FMLA Leave?

Yes, whether you take FMLA leave before or after the birth of a child, you are entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave within a 12-month period.

Does Workers' Compensation Leave Count Against My FMLA Leave Entitlement?

It can. FMLA leave and workers' compensation leave can run together, provided the leave is for a qualifying illness or injury and your employer properly notifies you in writing that the leave will be considered FMLA leave.

Can I Take FMLA Leave for Physical Therapy?

Yes. You can use FMLA leave for “continuing treatment by a health care provider.” That means if you are well enough to return to work, but your doctor prescribes several rounds of physical therapy, you can count those therapy sessions as protected FMLA leave.

Do I Have To Give My Employer My Medical Records for FMLA Leave?

No. You will need to provide supporting evidence of the medical reason for your leave, but you will not have to turn over all of your medical records.

Can My Employer Fire Me for Complaining About a Violation of FMLA?

No. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for complaining about a violation of your FMLA rights or a coworker's FMLA rights. You would have cause to take legal action against your employer.

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 used up your 12 weeks of leave for the year), your employer cannot deny your leave.

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

No.

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