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What You Need to Know When Taking FMLA Leave

The Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA is meant to provide certain protections to individuals requiring leave due to their own illness or to “care” for certain relatives. However, the FMLA does not apply to everyone and employees need to be careful when navigating what notice to provide their employer to take FMLA leave.


By: Nicholas Cibula

The Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA is meant to provide certain protections to individuals requiring leave due to their own illness or to “care” for certain relatives.  However, the FMLA does not apply to everyone and employees need to be careful when navigating what notice to provide their employer to take FMLA leave.  Below are some highlights of FMLA information for employees.

1. The FMLA only applies if:

  •  An employee has been employed for at least 12 months by the employer and for at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-months. 
  • The employer must have employed 50 or more employees each working day for 20 or more calendar workweeks during a calendar year.  
  • FMLA only applies if, because of a serious health condition, you need to care for yourself, a “child”, a “spouse” or a “parent”.  However, the FMLA does NOT apply to care for a grandchild.
  • The FMLA also applies for the birth or adoption of a son or daughter of the employee and in order to care for such son or daughter.

2.  You are responsible for putting your employer on notice that you are taking FMLA leave

  • Keep in mind there are different types of leave.  Think about:

                                        i.       is this leave foreseeable, do I know when I will need leave and how long; or

                                        ii.      is the leave unforeseeable, you do not know when you will need leave or how long that leave will be.

  • Check with your employer about what paperwork you need to fill out.  The FMLA allows an employer to request a certification or form that discusses why you need FMLA and for how long.
  • Keep in contact with your employer and provide your employer with answers to their questions about how long you will be on leave.

3.  The FMLA does not define “care”

  • Care is more than just directly providing medicine to a sick person or attending to the sick person. 
  • Recently Katz Nowinski, P.C. successfully argued that our client was providing care to her adult daughter by helping get the grandchildren to school, fed, and ready for the day.  The court agreed that by assisting with the grandchildren, our client relieved the adult daughter of duties she would normally have attended to.

4.  Employers cannot interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under the FMLA.

5.  Employers cannot discharge or in any other manner discriminate against you because you bring a claim under FMLA or testify about possible violations of the FMLA in a proceeding or inquiry.

If you or someone you know needs to use the protections of the FMLA, keep these points in mind.  If you or someone you know believes your employer is violating your rights under the FMLA contact an attorney.  The FMLA is a complex law and the use of an attorney with knowledge of the FMLA will protect your rights while reducing your stress.

If you need assistance with a FMLA issues, please contact our employment law attorneys: John Doak, Nicholas Cibula, or Elizabeth George.

We can help.

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