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How To Ask Your Employer for FMLA Leave

March 2, 2024 Family and Medical Leave Act Claims

And What To Do if They Turn You Down

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recover from a serious medical condition, or care for a family member with a serious injury or illness. Here are the most common questions we get about the process of requesting FMLA leave. 

First: Are You Eligible? 

In order to successfully ask for FMLA leave, you first have to know if you’re eligible. Your eligibility will depend on a number of criteria, including:

  • The size and type of your employer. To be eligible for FMLA leave, your employer must either be a public state, federal or local government agency or be over a certain size. Often that’s determined by whether they have 50 or more employees working within 75 miles of the job location.
  • The amount of hours you’ve worked. If your employer qualifies, you must have worked there for a minimum of 1,250 hours within the last 12 months to qualify.
  • The reason you need leave. To meet the criteria, either you or an immediate family member must have a serious health condition; have just given birth or adopted a child; or require care as a military member or veteran.

How Much Notice Does My Employer Need?

In general, you are required to give your employer advance notice of your FMLA leave. This isn’t always possible with emergency situations, however. Here are some guidelines.

  • If you know ahead of time that you will need to take leave, you must tell your employer at least 30 days ahead.
  • If you find out you’ll need leave with less than 30 days to spare, you’ll need to let your employer know as soon as you can.
  • If you have an unexpected emergency and need FMLA leave right away, tell your employer as soon as possible.

What Process Should I Follow in Telling My Employer I Need FMLA Leave?

In general, you should follow your employer’s published procedures for requesting FMLA leave. If they require a healthcare provider to certify the reason for your leave, they must give you at least 15 days to provide it. The US Department of Labor has copies of the appropriate forms for healthcare providers on their website.

Do I Have To Disclose My Diagnosis to My Employer? 

You have to tell your employer enough so that they can discern that your reason for requesting FMLA leave qualifies. However, you may not want to disclose all the details of your diagnosis to your employer, and you are still entitled to medical privacy.

You also don’t need to ask specifically for FMLA leave in your request—your employer should be able to discern that’s what you’re asking for by the nature of your request.

Simply stating that you are sick or injured may not be enough to allow your employer to discern your eligibility for FMLA leave; however, the information you give is dependent on your situation. The US Department of Labor website provides examples of how to word your request.

What Your Employer Must Do, by Law 

Your employer must follow certain requirements with regard to your FMLA leave. These include:

  • Letting you know if you are eligible for FMLA leave within 5 business days of your first request for leave. If you are determined not to be, your employer must tell you why.
  • Notifying you of your rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.
  • Letting you know when leave you’re taking is designated as FMLA leave, and how much of the leave you’re taking will be counted as part of your FMLA time.
  • Keeping your job, or an equivalent job with the same pay and benefits, available for you to return to.
  • Continuing your healthcare coverage during FMLA leave if the employer normally usually offers group health insurance.                     
  • The employer is not permitted to retaliate against you for requesting FMLA leave.

Were You Turned down for FMLA Leave? You Might Have Legal Recourse

If you’ve been turned down for FMLA leave and you believe this was in error, you should discuss it with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania attorney. Your attorney can assess the situation, determine whether your employer violated the law, and help you gain recourse in court.

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.