Home » Blog » Overview of The Family & Medical Leave Act

The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides for employee time off because of a serious medical condition either in an emergency situation or for planned medical treatments like surgery.  The FMLA only protects employees who have been employed for one year at a company (does not have to be continuous) and have worked at least 1250 hours in the previous 12 months.  It also only applies to you if your worksite for your employer has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius.  So, it’s possible that you could work for a large employer but if your worksite is isolated and only has a few employees, the FMLA may not apply to protect you.  In the event you have an emergency serious medical condition and can’t give your employer the normal 30 day notice to be off  for planned treatments, you can still be protected by the FMLA if  the condition requires inpatient care at a hospital or involves continuing treatment by a health care provider even though you aren’t in the hospital.  You must notify your employer as soon as reasonably practicable of your need for the absence.  Be sure and give your employer as much detail as you can as to what is wrong with you and why you need the leave, so as to put the employer on notice that they need to consider granting you FMLA leave.  Courts have ruled that just telling your employer that you are “sick” is insufficient to put the employer on notice of your need for FMLA leave.  You don’t have to specifically mention the word “FMLA”  in your request for leave, but you have to give your employer enough information to put them on notice, that if they checked, they could determine you needed FMLA leave.  If you have given your employer enough information about your sickness, then the employer can ask for you to obtain certification from a health care provider that your illness is FMLA qualifying.  Also, you can take off on intermittent FMLA leave if your medical condition is one that flares up intermittently, like asthma or arthritis; however, you may need to discuss this with your employer to also comply with your employer’s reasonable regulation of  intermittent leave.  The total amount of the intermittent leave cannot exceed the 12 week limit in one year.  The FMLA is very complicated and has a lot of regulations that control it.  It is best to check with an attorney, if you have doubts about what to do.  I have been dealing with the FMLA for a long time but, many times, I still need to get out the regulations to check on the intricacies of this law.