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When are workers entitled to FMLA leave?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Employment Law

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants eligible employees the right to take unpaid, employment-protected leave for qualifying family and medical reasons. Understanding when workers are entitled to FMLA leave can help both employees and employers to better ensure compliance with the law and to protect the rights of workers during particularly pressing times of need.

To qualify for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer, which typically includes all public agencies, schools and companies employing at least 50 workers. The employee seeking FMLA leave must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months. Additionally, an employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the start of their FMLA leave.

Qualifying circumstances

FMLA leave can be taken for several specific reasons, including:

  • The birth and care of a newborn or newly adopted or fostered child
  • To care for a spouse, child or parent who is struggling with a serious health condition
  • A serious health diagnosis that renders the employee no longer able to perform their essential job functions

When an employee requests FMLA leave, they must provide their employer with sufficient information for the employer to determine if the leave qualifies for FMLA protection. Depending on the circumstances, this may include certifying the expected timing and duration of the leave.

It is important for employees to notify their employer as soon as practicable under the circumstances, ideally 30 days in advance if the need for leave is foreseeable. If an employer rejects a legitimate FMLA request or retaliates against a worker for taking protected leave, seeking legal guidance is advised.