According to the U.S. Department of Labor, you are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if all of the following are true:
- You have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (though not necessarily in consecutive order).
- Have at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12 months immediately preceding leave.
- Work at a location where your employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
- Work for a covered employer.
Private sector employers are generally covered if they have 50 or more employees who work 20 or more workweeks. Local, state, or federal agencies, regardless of how many employees are employed, are covered. Public or private elementary and secondary schools are also covered.
There are certain situations that fall outside the general FMLA rules. For instance, airline flight crew employees have a nontraditional number of service hours, so special hours of service eligibility apply.
Special considerations also apply to eligible employees caring for a covered service member with a serious injury or condition. The employee may take up to 26 workweeks during a single 12-month period, which is calculated differently for members of the military.
How do I request FMLA leave?
Communicating with your employer is crucial. Provide as much advance notice as reasonable for the situation. For instance, if you know you will be requesting FMLA for surgery or pregnancy, tell your employer at least 30 days in advance.
For more critical leave requests, inform your employer as soon as possible, ideally the same day you are aware of the need (or the following day if necessary). You need to provide enough information so your employer understands the situation may be covered by FMLA.
You don’t need to provide your diagnosis, but you do need to indicate that your leave is due to an FMLA-covered health issue. This includes telling your employer you are under a doctor’s care and have a treatment regimen (such as antibiotics) and have been told to stay home.
For more information, your employer should have posted the rules governing FMLA. You may also go to the U.S. Department of Labor website.
Reviewed by Dr. Heather Felton, April 2020
- You are covered under the FMLA if you’ve worked for your employer for at least a year, your employer has at least 50 employees, and work for a covered employer.
- You are FMLA-covered if you work for local, state, and federal agencies regardless of how many employees are employed.
- If you are aware of your leave, it’s best to give your employer at least 30 days notice.