The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.
Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of FMLA in a 12-month period for qualifying events, inlcuding:
- Birth or adoption/foster care of a child
- A serious health condition
- To care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition
- Any qualifying exigency related to an employee’s spouse, child or parent who is a military member on covered active duty
- An eligible employee may also take up to 26 weeks of SMLA in a 12 month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, child, parent or next of kin of the servicemember.
When an employee requests leave time for an event that qualifies as an FMLA event, the employer is obligated to designate the leave as FMLA. Employees do not have the choice of specifying when they want to “use” FMLA, even if they can use other types of paid time off while they are out. If the employer is aware of the qualifying FMLA event, they must count it as FMLA time. Even if the employee chooses to use banked sick, vacation, or personal time off during his or her absence, they must still use FMLA time concurrently with the paid time off. Employers should update FMLA and Paid Time Off policies to clearly state that employees are required to use FMLA time concurrently with Paid Time Off in the case of any FMLA qualifying event.