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What You Need to Know Before Requesting Medical Leave

July 14, 2017 Family and Medical Leave Act Claims

What the FMLA is, and how it pertains to you

When you or a member of your family are suffering due to a medical condition, you shouldn’t have to worry that asking for time off from work might have a negative impact on your job.

Unfortunately, many workers request medical leave only to find themselves driven off the job, or fired not long after they return to work.

However, it’s important to know that federal law offers protection from this kind of treatment under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Let’s talk about what the FMLA is and how it might impact you.

What is the FMLA?

The FMLA provides eligible employees with the right to request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to seek medical care, or to assist a family member who needs care. Family members may be a spouse, children, or parents.

Some of the most common reasons people take FMLA include:

  • in-patient stays at health facilities
  • ongoing treatment or consecutive follow-up appointments with healthcare professionals
  • chronic illnesses that flare up or intensify unpredictably
  • recovery from complicated conditions, injuries, or surgeries
  • involved treatments related to pregnancies
  • time off to bond with newborn infants, adopted children, or foster children

Do You Qualify for FMLA Leave?

Before you ask if you’re qualified for FMLA leave, it’s important to know if your employer is required to provide it.

Every public agency in America is required to adhere to the FMLA, as is nearly every private employer that has at least 50 employees within a specific region or zone.

You must also meet certain criteria to be eligible for FMLA. Generally speaking, you should be eligible for FMLA leave if you:

  • have been working for the employer for at least 12 months consecutively, or non-consecutively for at least 12 months over the course of seven years
  • have accumulated at least 1,250 work hours (i.e., an average of approximately 24 hours a week) during the 12-month period immediately preceding the request
  • have been employed at a location where the company has at least 50 other employees situated within a 75-mile radius

Depending on the situation, you may have the additional right to spread out your 12 weeks of FMLA leave over several months. This is known as intermittent leave.

Among other things, intermittent leave might allow you to take a week off for a surgical procedure, and then one or more additional weeks off for any follow-up procedures.

It is worth noting that while mothers and fathers are both entitled to an FMLA leave after the birth of a child, that type of leave must be scheduled consecutively, so it takes place over one block of time.

In the event that your child or your spouse is being deployed as a member of the military, you have the right to request an FMLA leave in the weeks leading up to that deployment, and you also have the right to request an FMLA leave if a loved one returns home after being wounded or held captive during service.

Understand Your Rights

In any situation where you’re aware that you will need to request FMLA leave beforehand (e.g., leave after the birth of a child or a pre-scheduled surgery), the law requires that you provide your employer with 30 days’ notice.

If you must take leave sooner than that, you’re required to let your employer know as soon as you become aware that you might need time off.

One of the most important aspects of requesting an FMLA leave is to ensure that you’re following your employer’s procedures and that you file all of the appropriate paperwork on time.

Your employer has the right to request a detailed certification of the reason for – and duration of – your leave from a doctor, even if you’re requesting the leave to care for an immediate family member, as opposed to yourself.
Contact Us Now for a Free Consultation

If you feel that your rights have been violated under the FMLA, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney.

Email us at, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.