Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs)
Which employees are eligible for an FMLA qualifying leave?
An "eligible employee" is a State employee who:
- Has been employed by the State for at least 12 months, and
- Has worked and been compensated for at least 1,250 hours
during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave (this does not
include vacation, sick leave, other paid leave, or compensatory time - this
does include overtime worked).
Are only permanent employees eligible for FMLA qualifying
No, non-permanent employees are eligible if they meet the
requirements stated under question number one above. If employees are not in
insurance eligible status, they are only eligible for unpaid time off and not
the insurance benefits.
Under what circumstances are employees eligible to take a
FMLA qualifying leave?
- For birth of the employee’s child, and to care for the
- For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or
- To care for the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent
with a serious health condition; and
- Because of a serious health condition that makes the
employee unable to perform the functions of the employee's job.
- Because of a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that
the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on
active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty)
in support of a contingency operation.
- To care for a covered service member who became ill or was
injured as a result of active duty service.
How much time may an employee take as FMLA qualifying leave?
Eligible employees may take up to twelve work weeks of leave
during each fiscal year with the following exceptions:
- If the leave is to care for a covered service member who
became ill or was injured as a result of active duty or call to active duty
service, refer to question No. 5.
- If a husband and wife both work for the State, refer to
Question Nos. 6 and 7.
- If the leave is taken for the birth of a child or the
placement of a child for adoption or foster care, refer to Question No. 9.
How much time may an
employee take as FMLA qualifying leave to care for a covered service member who
became ill or is injured as a result of active duty or call to active duty
Eligible employees may take up to 26 weeks within a single
12-month period. The 12 month period begins on the date the employee first
takes FMLA leave to care for the covered service member and ends 12 months after
If both husband and wife are State employees, are they both
eligible for twelve weeks of FMLA qualifying leave during the fiscal year?
Yes. However, a husband and wife may take only a combined
total of twelve weeks of FMLA qualifying leave per fiscal year under the
- For the birth of a
son or daughter and to care for the newborn child;
- For placement of a child with the employee for adoption or
- To care for the employee’s parent (not parent-in-law) who
has a serious health condition.
- Because of a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact
that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military
member on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to
active duty) in support of a contingency operation.
If both husband and wife are State employees, are they both
eligible for 26 weeks of FMLA qualifying leave to care for a covered service
member who becomes ill or is injured as a result of active duty or active duty
Yes. However, a husband and wife can take only a combined
total of 26 weeks of FMLA qualifying leave during a single twelve month period.
If an employee uses 12 weeks of FMLA qualifying leave in one
fiscal year, are they allowed another 12 weeks the following fiscal year for the
Yes, provided the employee still meets all the eligibility
criteria (including 1250 hours worked in the year preceding the request).
If FMLA qualifying leave is taken for the birth of a child,
or for placement of a child for adoption or foster care, must the leave be
completed within a specific period of time?
Although it is possible that an employee could qualify for
two separate FMLA qualifying leaves for the birth or placement of a child
(under the condition explained in Question No. 5 above), all FMLA qualifying leaves must be completed within 12 months of
the birth or placement of a child.
The 12-month period begins on the date of birth or placement.
Does FMLA leave have to be taken all at once, or can it be taken
FMLA qualifying leave taken for the employee’s own serious
health condition, for the serious health condition of the employee’s spouse,
son, daughter, or parent, or to care for a covered service member with a
serious injury or illness may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule
if “medically necessary” and if that medical need can best be accommodated by
an intermittent schedule. If the need for intermittent leave or a reduced schedule
is documented by the employee’s or family member’s health care provider as
“medically necessary”, such leave shall be granted. Intermittent leave for the
birth/placement of a child may be granted at the discretion of the Appointing
Authority. The Appointing Authority’s agreement is not necessary if the mother has
a serious health condition in connection with the birth or if the newborn child
has a serious health condition.
Leave due to a qualifying exigency may be taken on an
intermittent or reduced schedule basis.
Is an employee required to use paid sick leave for certain
FMLA qualifying leaves?
Yes. FMLA allows an employer to require the use of paid
leave for certain qualifying events as stated under the terms of the collective
bargaining agreements and compensation plans.
Employees must use sick leave for the reasons authorized by
the bargaining agreement/plan provisions. The FMLA does not require an employer
to expand the use of paid leave.
Are there circumstances under which an employee may request
to receive paid vacation or compensatory time in conjunction with FMLA?
An employee may request and receive paid vacation or
compensatory time. Granting of vacation or compensatory time is not subject to
any other employer requirements such as seniority or staffing needs. However,
the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule foreseeable qualifying
leave so as not to unduly disrupt the employer's operation. If the employee is
unable to provide sufficient documentation to determine FMLA eligibility, the
employee shall be placed on unpaid leave until such documentation is made
available to the employer.
How do you determine the amount of FMLA qualifying leave used if an employee works
a fixed part-time schedule or the employee's schedule varies from week to week?
The amount of FMLA qualifying leave is determined on a
prorated basis by comparing the requested schedule with the employee's normal
schedule. Where the schedule varies from week to week to such an extent that
the employer is unable to determine with any certainty the number of hours the
employee would have worked, a weekly average of the hours scheduled over the 12
months prior to the beginning of the leave period is used to calculate the
employee's leave entitlement.
How can an Appointing
Authority determine if a request for leave is a FMLA qualifying leave?
An employee requesting leave shall be asked the question,
"Is the request for paid or unpaid time off for the purpose of an FMLA
qualifying event (yes) (no)?" An employee giving notice of the need for
FMLA leave must explain the reasons for the needed leave so as to allow the Appointing
Authority to determine whether it is qualifying.
If an employee requests a leave prior to completing a
request for leave slip, a supervisor may ask the reason for the leave. The
supervisor will ask for this information solely for the purpose of determining
whether the leave is FMLA qualifying and/or if under the terms of the State's contracts
or compensation plans an employee is eligible for paid or unpaid time off. f
the employee fails to explain the reason, leave may be denied.
How can an employee
determine if his or her request for time off qualifies under FMLA?
Notices explaining the Act's provisions and providing information
concerning the procedures for filing complaints of violations of the Act shall
be posted in conspicuous places at the work site.
An employee may ask his or her supervisor; contact the
personnel office or their union to ask questions concerning the employee's
rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.
Can an FMLA
qualifying leave extend an employee's period of employment?
What are an employee's job protection rights upon return
from an unpaid FMLA qualifying leave?
An eligible employee shall be restored to the same position
that the employee held when the FMLA qualifying leave began, or to an
equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and
conditions of employment such as same shift, equivalent hours, etc.
How does an FMLA qualifying leave coordinate with the Statewide
Sick Leave Policy?
The Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against employees
who use FMLA qualifying leave. Therefore, the FMLA qualifying leave cannot be
referred to in any employment actions including but not limited to discipline
Can employees choose whether or not they want to use FMLA
No. It is the employer’s responsibility to designate leave
as qualifying under FMLA. An employee may not choose whether leave shall be
counted as FMLA qualifying leave.
How can an employer
verify an employee’s need for leave because of a “serious health condition”?
The Appointing Authority’s FMLA designation decision must be
based only on information received from the employee or the employee’s
spokesperson. An employer may also require an employee to obtain certification of
a “serious health condition” from the employee’s health care provider. The
employer can pay for a second opinion if it doubts the validity of the original
certification. If the second opinion conflicts with the first, the employer may
pay for a third opinion. The provider of the third opinion must be jointly
approved by the employer and employee. The third opinion will be final.
If a leave request is for the serious health condition of a
family member, the employer can require the employee to provide certification
from the family member’s health care provider.
Is an employee
eligible to continue health insurance benefits during a FMLA qualifying leave?
During an FMLA qualifying leave, the employee and dependent
health and dental insurance coverage is maintained on the same basis as
coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously
employed during the entire leave period.
Employees who receive the partial employer contribution must
continue to pay their portion of the premium in order to retain this coverage.
If the employee fails to make their premium payments, they will lose the
coverage and may not be covered for any claims which may have occurred while on FMLA qualifying leave.
What other insurance coverage may an employee continue
during a FMLA qualifying leave?
An employee may continue all coverage which they had prior
to going on the FMLA qualifying leave, by paying the full cost of the premium.
This includes, but is not limited to, basic, optional, spouse, child life
insurance and short term and long term disability insurance. If the employee takes
leave due to a work-related disability, short term disability may not be
continued. It may be reinstated upon the employee’s return to work.
May an employee choose not to retain health and dental coverages
while on a FMLA qualifying leave?
Yes, an employee may choose not to retain these coverages. The
coverages will be reinstated upon the employee’s return to work.
May an employee choose not to retain optional coverages
while on a FMLA qualifying leave?
Yes, however, they may have the coverages reinstated upon
return to work, if the return to work is within the allotted twelve weeks of
FMLA qualifying leave. If the leave goes beyond twelve weeks, the employee must
reapply with evidence of good health. If an employee chooses not to retain
optional coverages, they will not be covered for any claims that may have
occurred while they were on leave.
If an employee terminates employment during the FMLA qualifying
leave, may the employer recoup the costs of the premiums paid?
Yes, an employer may recover its share of health/dental
insurance premiums paid during a period of unpaid FMLA qualifying leave from an
employee if the employee fails to return to work for at least thirty (30)
calendar days after the leave unless the employee does not return due to the continuation,
recurrence or onset of the serious health condition, or due to other
circumstances beyond the employee’s control.
What are an
employee’s COBRA rights in relation to an FMLA qualifying leave?
As it relates to FMLA qualifying leave, the COBRA qualifying
event is termination of employment, or the end of the leave - whichever comes
first. Once the COBRA qualifying event occurs, the employee may choose to
“continue” health and dental by paying the entire cost of coverage - even
though the employee did not pay their share of the premium during the FMLA qualifying
What can employees do if they believe that their rights
under FMLA have been violated?
The employee has the choice of:
- Filing, or having another person file on his or her behalf,
a complaint with the Secretary of Labor, or
- Filing a private lawsuit pursuant to section 107 of FMLA.
How are employees protected who request leave or otherwise
assert FMLA rights?
The FMLA prohibits an employer from interfering with,
restraining, or denying the exercise of (or attempts to exercise) any rights
provided by the Act.
Do State laws
providing family and medical leave still apply?
Nothing in FMLA supersedes any provision of State law. However,
if leave qualifies for FMLA and for leave under State law, the leave used
counts against the employee’s entitlement under both laws.
If an employee is on
a non-medical leave of absence that also qualifies as an FMLA-protected leave,
should that employee's leave accrual date be adjusted?
No. Accrual dates shall not be adjusted for employees on
FMLA-qualifying leaves whether medical or not.
Do employees earn sick and vacation accruals when they are
on unpaid FMLA-qualifying leaves?
No. Employees only earn sick and vacation accruals when they
are in a paid status. In addition, an employee being paid less than eighty (80)
hours in a pay period due to an FMLA-qualifying unpaid leave will have his/her
sick/vacation accruals prorated.
Are employees on FMLA-qualifying leaves allowed to earn
holiday pay during their leave?
Only if they are in a paid status on the normal work day
before and after the holiday.
Does workers’ compensation leave count against an employee’s
FMLA leave entitlement?
It can. FMLA qualifying leave and workers’ compensation
leave may run concurrently, provided the reason for the absence is due to a
qualifying serious illness or injury, and the employer properly notifies the
employee in writing that the leave will be counted as FMLA leave.
Can an employer count
missed overtime hours against the employee’s FMLA entitlement?
Yes, if an employee would normally be required to work
overtime, but is unable to do so because of an FMLA-qualifying reason that
limits his/her ability to work overtime, the hours which the employee would
have been required to work may be counted against the employee’s entitlement (e.g.,
employee normally would be required to work 48 hours, but due to a serious
health condition, can only work 40 hours. The employee would use 8 hours of
Voluntary overtime hours that an employee does not work due
to the FMLA reason may not be so counted.
For more information, contact human resources or your union
Employee Rights and Responsibilities Under The Family and Medical Leave Act
Basic Leave Entitlement
FMLA requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of
unpaid job-protected leave to eligible employees for the following reasons:
- For incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or
- To care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement
for adoption or foster care;
- To care for the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, or
parent, who has a serious health condition; or
- For a serious health condition that makes the employee
unable to perform the employee’s job.
Military Family Leave Entitlements
Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent
on active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves
in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to
address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include
attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing
certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling
sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.
FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits
eligible employees to take up 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member
during a single 12-month period. A covered service member is a current member
of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who
has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty
that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his or her duties
for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or
therapy; or is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired
Benefits and Protections
During FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s
health coverage under any “group health plan” on the same terms as if the
employee had continued to work. Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees
must be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay,
benefits, and other employment terms.
Use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any
employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of an employee’s leave.
Employees are eligible if they have worked for a covered
employer for at least one year, for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months,
and if at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.
Definition of Serious Health Condition
A serious health condition is an illness, injury,
impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an overnight
stay in a medical care facility, or continuing treatment by a health care
provider for a condition that either prevents the employee from performing the
functions of the employee’s job, or prevents the qualified family member from
participating in school or other daily activities.
Subject to certain conditions, the continuing treatment
requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive
calendar days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider or
one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to
pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition. Other conditions may meet
the definition of continuing treatment.
MN Management & Budget – Revised: January 2009, Page 9
Use of Leave
An employee does not need to use this leave entitlement in
one block. Leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule
when medically necessary. Employees must make reasonable efforts to schedule
leave for planned medical treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s
operations. Leave due to qualifying exigencies may also be taken on an
Substitution of Paid Leave for Unpaid Leave
Employees may choose or employers may require use of accrued
paid leave while taking FMLA leave. In order to use paid leave for FMLA leave,
employees must comply with the employer’s normal paid leave policies.
Employees must provide 30 days advance notice of the need to
take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable. When 30 days’ notice is not
possible, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable and generally
must comply with an employer’s normal call-in procedures. Employees must
provide sufficient information for the employer to determine if the leave may
qualify for FMLA protection and the anticipated timing and duration of
the leave. Sufficient information may include that the employee is unable to
perform job functions, the family member is unable to perform daily activities,
the need for hospitalization or continuing treatment by a health care provider,
or circumstances supporting the need for military family leave. Employees also
must inform the employer if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA
leave was previously taken or certified. Employees also may be required to
provide a certification and periodic re-certification supporting the need for
Covered employers must inform employees requesting leave
whether they are eligible under FMLA. If they are, the notice must specify any
additional information required as well as the employees’ rights and responsibilities.
If they are not eligible, the employer must provide a reason for the
Covered employers must inform employees if leave will be
designated as FMLA-protected and the amount of leave counted against the
employee’s leave entitlement. If the employer determines that the leave is not FMLA-protected,
the employer must notify the employee.
Unlawful Acts by Employers
FMLA makes it unlawful for any employer to:
- Interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right
provided under FMLA;
- Discharge or discriminate against any person for opposing
any practice made unlawful by FMLA or for involvement in any proceeding under
or relating to FMLA.
An employee may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of
Labor or may bring a private lawsuit against an employer.
FMLA does not affect any Federal or State law prohibiting
discrimination, or supersede any State or local law or collective bargaining
agreement which provides greater family or medical leave rights.
FMLA section 109 (29 U.S.C. § 2619) requires FMLA covered
employers to post the text of this notice. Regulations 29 C.F.R. § 825.300(a)
may require additional disclosures.
For additional information:
1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243) TTY: 1-877-889-5627