The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they meet specific criteria. It is intended to protect the employee’s job if they need to take time off for specific medical or family reasons.
An employee is eligible to take FMLA if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months for that employer and work for an employer with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.
Occasionally, disputes arise between the employee and the employer. The most common dispute is over the employee’s eligibility to take FMLA or that the employer did not provide a written explanation why the employee is not eligible.
It’s helpful for employers to keep accurate records and ensure that they have policies and procedures that comply with the FMLA’s eligibility requirements. This helps employees understand their obligations as well as the employer’s.
Another dispute that may arise is whether the employee provided adequate notice of their need for leave. They are required to provide at least 30 days’ notice if their need for leave is foreseeable.
Employers can require medical certification from a licensed health care provider that includes the expected duration of the leave. If an employer disputes the medical certification, they may ask the employee to obtain a second opinion.
The FMLA also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for using FMLA. If an employee claims they were terminated, demoted or some other adverse employment action was taken against them for using FMLA, employers should take immediate action to investigate the complaint.