Family and Medical Leave Act

January 12, 2010



The Family and Medical Leave Act, in 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1) provides:  


[A]n eligible employee shall be entitled to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following: … (Because of the employee’s own serious health condition) (or)  In order to care for the spouse, or a son or daughter, or parent, of the employee, if such spouse, son, daughter, or parent has a serious health condition. …   

29 U.S.C. §2611(11) defines “serious health condition” as including 


“an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves – –  



(B) continuing treatment by a health care provider.”   

    The employee must give 30 days notice of the leave request, unless the date of the treatment under the circumstances does not allow that, in which case the employee must give as much notice “as practicable.”   

    The request does not have to be written, although in many cases the employer will have forms for the employee to fill out.  The request does not have to specify it is for “FMLA,” it is  sufficient if the information provided makes the employer aware that the condition probably fits within FMLA. An employer’s internal procedural  requirements cannot be more strict than required  by FMLA.   

   The employee does not have to provide medical documentation unless it is requested by the employer, in which case the employee clearly must comply with that request.   It is the employer’s duty to followup with any request for additional documentation.  Clearly, an FMLA request can be made, and leave taken, without necessarily providing any medical documentation at that point.  Documentation can take place later.    

   The twelve weeks of FMLA leave to which the employee is entitled may be taken intermittently.   

   Further, the leave can be taken in the form of a reduced work schedule.   


2 Responses to “Family and Medical Leave Act”

  1. juanita said

    I was wondering how often you have to sign paper for the fmla. my hr says the papers should be filled oout every 6 months.

  2. billslaw said

    It might depend on what you requested for leave, since leave is up to twelve weeks per year, I am unclear as to what would still be an issue 6 months later, unless you are taking “intermittent” leave.
    Clearly the employer has the right to ask for reasonable documentation, as long as they don’t impose more strict requirements that needed under the FMLA. Reasonable updates on medical condition
    are allowed, and every 6 months doesn’t seem too
    often to constitute harassment. If your doctor said you could not work more than 40 hours a week, for the next year, then it would be unreasonable to request more documentation sooner than a year, but unless you provide more detail, a six month update is probably allowable.
    If there is any doubt, cooperate in the request
    for documentation. If there is some specific harm
    caused by the six month update, say what it is.

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