Employers are permitted to request that employees submit a medical certification in support of their request for leave. Additionally, employees are required to notify their employers as soon as practicable of their need for FMLA leave. An employee does not have to actually say “I need FMLA leave”, you just need to notify your employer of a qualifying reason (for example, I need to get surgery) and it is then the employer's obligation to notify you of your rights.
What are the Notice Requirements?
When an employee seeks leave for the first time for a FMLA-qualifying reason, the employee need not expressly assert rights under the FMLA or even mention the FMLA. The employer will be expected to obtain any additional required information through informal means.
When an employer acquires notice that an employee's requested leave may be for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the employer bears the obligation to notify the employee of the eligibility to take FMLA leave within five business days, absent extenuating circumstances.
To learn more about the notice requirements in a real case, click here.
Is FMLA time paid?
The FMLA only protects 12-weeks of time and it is important to note that this time is unpaid. An employer is permitted to require you to take and exhaust disability, vacation and/or sick time at the same time as your FMLA leave so that you are not receiving more than 12-weeks of time total. If an employee is unable to return to work after the 12 weeks, he or she can be terminated. It is possible, however, that, at that point, the employee may be able to rely on disability laws to extend the 12-week period. It is important that if an employee requires this additional time off, they request it. You are not automatically entitled to additional time off (not all qualifying FMLA serious health conditions are also “disabilities” under the law and the law takes an employer's needs into consideration) but generally an employer is required to at least consider such requests.
What damages is a Successful FMLA Plaintiff entitled to?