Family Medical Leave Act

questions & answers

Question: how long does the employer have to approve or deny my doctors certificate for fmla. I submitted my request over a month ago and have not been approved or denied time off for care of a family member. Thank you.

Answer:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women. The FMLA provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. In order to be eligible, generally, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and have a reason (also called a qualifying reason) for taking the leave that is covered under the law.

An employer must provide FMLA leave if the employer has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius. The FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees, as described above. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for a qualifying reason. Caring for a family member is a qualifying reason only if 1) the family member is a spouse, son or daughter under 18, or a parent, 2) the family member has a serious health condition (as defined by the FMLA), and 3) the physician has certified that the employee is needed to care for the family member and described the scope and extent of the care needed.

Eligible employees seeking to use FMLA leave may be required to provide: 

  • 30-day advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable; 
  • notice "as soon as practicable" when the need to take FMLA leave is not anticipated ("as soon as practicable" generally means at least telling the employer within one or two business days of learning of the need to take FMLA leave); 
  • enough information for the employer to understand that the employee needs leave for a reason that is covered by the FMLA (the employee need not mention the FMLA when requesting leave to meet this requirement, but may only explain why the leave is needed); and, 
  • where the employer was not made aware that an employee was absent for FMLA reasons and the employee wants the leave counted as FMLA leave, the employee should inform the employer, generally within two business days of returning to work, that leave was taken for a reason that is covered by the FMLA.

If an employer is governed by the FMLA and the employee is entitled to take the FMLA leave, the request should normally be responded to within 30 days. If the request has not been responded to after 30 days, the employee might go to the company Human Resources department and ask if there is a problem. It is important that the employee comply with their request if they ask for more information. If the employee does not get a response, the employee should talk to others in the company, such as the supervisor, the head of the department, or the head of the company. If the employee still does not get a response, he or she should consult an attorney. (Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, § 2 et seq., 29 U.S.C.A. § 2601 et seq.)

QUESTIONS

  • how long does the employer have to approve or deny my doctors certificate for fmla. I submitted my request over a month ago and have not been approved or denied time off for care of a family member. Thank you.

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