The Family and Medical Leave Act, also known as FMLA  grants eligible employees the protected right to unpaid qualifying leave under a covered employer concerning specific family and medical concerns.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). This Act’s purpose is to promote stability and offer economic security for employees and their families. It also protects employees from retaliation against them by their employers for exercising or attempting to exercise their FMLA rights. Be mindful that despite your employer being covered, you may not be eligible. In order to qualify for FMLA leave, some criteria must be met.


  • Must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months *(do not have to be consecutive); 
  • Must have worked for your employer for at least 1250 hours in the 12 months before you take leave; and
  • Must work at a location where the employers have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your work site.

The most common qualifications regarding serious health conditions are those that require staying overnight in a medical care facility and must interfere with you or your family member’s work or schooling for more than three (3) consecutive days. These medical conditions also need to require ongoing treatment that involves professional care by a health care provider at least twice a year. Another common qualification includes serious conditions relating to pregnancy. 

To request FMLA leave, you will need to provide your employer with a 30-day notice. If you need to leave in less than 30 days, you must notify your employer as soon as possible and follow your employer’s guidelines. In order for your leave to be protected, you must provide sufficient documentation for your employer to know your leave will be covered by FMLA and both you and your employer must comply with FMLA regulations. Once you notify your employer of your requested leave, they must relate whether or not you are eligible within 5 business days. If you are eligible and your employer requests medical certification,  you must complete certification to your employer within 15 calendar days. If at any point your employer requests additional information, they must notify you in writing requesting information needed and must cover the cost if they request further validity.


  • You are entitled up to twelve (12) workweeks of leave in any twelve (12) month period
  • These twelve weeks may be taken intermittently or consecutively despite employer approval if the reason is medically necessary
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the servicemember (Military Caregiver Leave)
  • If you were receiving health benefits when leave began, your employer must maintain them in the same manner during your approved leave
  • You can use your PTO, vacation time, etc. along with your FMLA contingent on following your company’s protocol in requesting PTO, vacation days, etc.
  • Time taken may not be used against you (i.e. Termination, discipline, or retaliation)
  • When you return from FMLA, your employer must restore the same job with equivalent terms and conditions, pay, and benefits 
  • Employees have the right to file a complaint with the WHD or pursue an investigation of a potential lawsuit by consulting with a qualified employment lawyer, without being terminated or retaliated against

We recommend having a consultation with a qualified labor and employment lawyer before you make a decision to file a complaint with the Department of Labor, as a lawyer can recommend an appropriate legal strategy that ensures your legal rights are protected and your legal claims are successfully advanced.

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