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FMLA - FAQs

Find answers to common questions and eligibility requirements below.

General

Our implementation is fast. Once we receive all required paperwork, the implementation only takes 5-10 business days.

None! We will process all parts of the leave for you, so there is no portal to learn, or additional training needed for new clients.
You will need to complete an application and questionnaire. We also have an excel template that will need to be populated with basic employee information and their hours worked in the last 12 months. Preferably, we will receive an updated version of this report each month so that we have all the information needed to assist employees with their leave requests.
Yes. All our groups are assigned a dedicated Client Service Specialist. This person will be the contact person for both the client and their employees. You will be able to contact them via email and direct phone number.
No. The request can be made either verbally or in writing. Additionally, the burden is on the employer to determine if a time-off request made by an employee may fall under FMLA and to notify him/her of their potential eligibility and rights and responsibilities.
The employer has five business days to notify the employee.
An employer must provide the employee with a minimum of 15 calendar days to return the completed medical certification. The employer must provide an extension of time if the employee has shown they’ve made a good faith effort to return the completed medical certification on time.

Employers can usually ask for a recertification of FMLA every 30 days. However, if the original certification stated that more than 30 days leave was needed, the employer typically needs to wait until the end of the initial certification period. If an employee requests an extension to their leave or is using leave time in a significantly different way than the original certification stated, or the circumstances of the original FMLA leave change, the employer may be able to request a recertification sooner.

Yes, if intermittent leave has been deemed medically necessary according to the FMLA medical certification. To know more about FMLA intermittent leave read The Employers and Employees Guide to Intermittent Leave.

No. The employer may not ask questions regarding an employee’s health condition/need for FMLA due to FMLA and HIPAA laws. However, an employer can ask for clarification or verification of the information provided on an FMLA medical certification.
Generally speaking, courts favor employees in cases where an employee is terminated while on FMLA leave. There are certain circumstances when an employer can proceed with a termination, but we recommend speaking with an attorney who has proven expertise in advising on these matters.

For Employers

A covered employee qualifies for FMLA leave under the following conditions:

  • If the employee is diagnosed with a medical condition.
  • If the employee is caring for a newborn or recently adopted a child, or has recently allocated a foster child. 
  • If the employee is providing care for a child, spouse, or parent suffering from a serious medical condition. 
  • If the employee is attending to an injured veteran or military person. 
  • If the employee requires time off to deal with specific circumstances arising from the departure of a military person.

A sickness, injury, incapacity, or physical or mental ailment that requires inpatient care or ongoing treatment by a healthcare professional is considered a “severe health condition” under FMLA. The standards of continuous treatment for a chronic medical condition are mentioned below: 

  • An injury or incapacity that lasts for three successive days resulting in visiting a healthcare professional 
  • Any impairment caused due to pregnancy or prenatal care. 
  • A serious chronic condition requiring ongoing therapy. 
  • A period of disability caused by persistent or long-term illnesses for which treatment may be ineffective. 
  • A period of inability that requires multiple therapy visits or recovery from a procedure lasting at least three successive days.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allow entitled employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for defined circumstances. An employee can take up to 12 or 26 weeks of leave in a 12-month period, depending on the purpose of the leave.

 

FMLA

CFRA

An employer that has 50 or more employees

An employer that has 5 or more employees

A cover employee situated within a 75-mile radius

No such requirement

An employee who has worked for a qualified employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours

Same criteria as FMLA.

A covered employee’s partner (including same-sex marriages), offspring (including minors or adults), and parents 


Note: A registered domestic partner is not considered a spouse.

A covered employee’s partner (including registered domestic partner or same-sex marriages), child of any age, biological parents, parents-in-law, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren


Note: A registered domestic partner is considered a spouse.

Qualified reasons for leave:

  • Baby bonding after childbirth. 
  • Adoption or foster care placement of a child 
  • To provide care for the employee’s covered family member suffering from a medical condition.
  • An employee’s critical health condition, including pregnancy 
  • An eligible military urgency concerning the covered active military service or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, child of any age, or parent who serves in the United States Armed Forces for up to 26 weeks.
  • To look after a family member who has served in the military and suffers from a serious injury or disease.
  • Employers are permitted to request a diagnosis of a serious health condition from employees to legitimize the leave.

Qualified reasons for leave:

  • Baby bonding after childbirth, including the child of a domestic partner.  
  • Adoption or foster care placement of a child 
  • To provide care for the employee’s covered family member suffering from a medical condition. 
  • The employee’s critical health condition, excluding pregnancy  
  • A legitimate military reason involving an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child of any age, or parent serving in the United States Armed Forces on covered active duty or being called to covered active duty. 
  • Employers are not allowed to request the employee for a diagnosis of a significant health condition. However, the employee has the option of disclosing the diagnosis.


The FMLA regulations state: “The determination of whether an employee meets the hours service requirement and has been employed by the employer for a total of at least 12 months must be made as of the date the FMLA leave is to start. An employee may be on non-FMLA leave at the time he or she meets the 12-month eligibility requirement, and in that event, any portion of the leave taken for an FMLA-qualifying reason after the employee meets the eligibility requirement would be FMLA leave.”

 Thus, when an employee is not yet qualified for federal FMLA leave, providing non-FMLA leave relies on the company’s rules and procedures unless there is an applicable federal and state family or medical leave statute. Any time off taken before the employee’s FMLA entitlement cannot be included in the 12 weeks of FMLA leave. It equates to any leave taken before becoming FMLA-eligible; the employee is entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave.

An employee is entitled to up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave for most qualifying reasons or up to 26 workweeks of FMLA leave for military caregiver leave. The amount of FMLA leave taken is divided by the number of hours the employee would have worked, considering if the employee had taken any other leave (including FMLA leave) to determine the proportion of the FMLA workweek used. 

 An employee’s 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA don’t automatically renew at the beginning of the calendar year. Generally, employers may select one of four options to establish the 12-month period to be uniformly applied to all employees taking FMLA leave.

  • The calendar year:  A 12-month period that begins on January 1 and ends on December 31.  
  • Any fixed 12 months: A 12-month period such as a fiscal year (for example, October 1 through September 30), or a year beginning on an employee’s anniversary date (for example, September 24 through September 23), or a state-mandated 12-month period. 
  • The 12-month period measured forward: A 12-month period begins when an employee takes an FMLA leave for the first time. The next 12-month period starts after the previous 12-month period has ended. 
  • A “rolling” 12-month period measured backward: A 12-month period is calculated backward from the date an employee takes an FMLA leave. Each time an employee takes an FMLA leave during the “rolling” 12-month term, the existing leave eligibility is the remainder of the 12 weeks not used during the prior 12 months.

It depends on the understanding between the employee and employer where the employee willingly volunteers to work from home while on FMLA leave. The employee FMLA leave eligibility will, however, not be influenced by the hours worked from home. The employee must keep records and document the number of hours worked each day, with the remaining regular working hours counted as FMLA. 

 When employees are requested to work during their FMLA leave, they are actually requesting an intermittent or reduced schedule leave. This kind of request must always be managed differently by the employer depending on the grounds for the leave, which can include:

  • An employee’s serious health condition may require them to take time off.
  • To look after a family member who is struggling with a serious medical condition. 
  • Take leave for baby bonding.

The FMLA allows qualifying employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually. FMLA leave can be taken part-time or as-needed based on a medical emergency. Employer approval is not obligated for intermittent leave that is medically essential such as pregnancy, or a severe health condition, or a covered service member’s serious ailment or disability. 

On the other hand, intermittent leave for the adoption or foster care of a child must be approved by the employer. Additionally, an employer must typically agree to an employee’s request for intermittent leave to provide child care following the birth of a child or the placement of an adopted kid. Whereas in the case of the “severe health condition,” an employer is required to offer intermittent leave if the mother experiences troubles after childbirth or if the infant is early and has health issues. If both couples work for the same company, they are only permitted to take up to 12 weeks of joint leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.

While an employee can be dismissed while on FMLA leave, they cannot be terminated for seeking or accepting FMLA leave. However, it’s also possible to lose your job while on FMLA or returning from it. 

Employers can fire employees for the following reasons:

  • The employee did not submit an application for FMLA-approved leave. 
  • The employee’s poor performance prior to taking FMLA leave 
  • The employee had engaged in wrongdoing or deception. 
  • Proof that the employee would have been fired if they had not taken FMLA leave.
  • An employer can fire an employee for any reasonable, non-discriminatory, and non-retaliatory reason, irrespective of their FMLA leave status. 

To know more about how we protect employers please read How does the Sterling Administration safeguard employers against FMLA abuse.

The FMLA applies to depression as long as the employee is qualified and can substantiate that their treatment necessitates a leave of absence. 

 FMLA may cover depression therapies if they include: 

Inpatient treatment at a hospital, hospice, or a residential medical care facility.

A health care provider’s ongoing therapy.

 Depression treatment differs from person to person, depending on the specifics of their illness and lifestyle. Here are some instances of recommended therapies that necessitate a leave of absence from work:

  • Doctor-ordered home rest
  • Intensive interpersonal therapy 
  • Admission to a mental care center

 

A proper process for requesting FMLA leave should exist at your workplace. In most circumstances, you should submit a formal written request that specifies the start date and duration of the time off. An FMLA is only good for 12 weeks.

Employers are not allowed to demand a medical certification from an employee wanting leave under FMLA to connect with a healthy newborn or a child placed for adoption or foster care since there is no medical necessity for this sort of leave.

However, when an employee seeks FMLA bonding leave, employers might demand paperwork to substantiate the family link. Documentation is generally unnecessary in cases when a female employee obtains leave for pregnancy and childbirth because it is evident that the mother is entitled to FMLA leave to bond with her newborn child. 

 FMLA absence for bonding with a newborn, newly adopted, or fostered kid must be taken within one year of the child’s birth or adoption or foster care placement. When determining eligibility for bonding leave, employers may request documentation of the child’s date of birth or placement date.

Employees on FMLA cannot, in general, be denied benefits they obtained prior to their leave. The regulations surrounding earned time off and paid time off are generally determined by state legislation and organizational policies. It can be divided into: 

  • PTO accrual refers to an employer’s policy for how an employee achieves paid time off. 
  • Accrued time off is PTO that an employee has gained but has not yet utilized, depending on the number of working hours.

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