The Family and Medical Leave Act’s requirements and protections can be complicated and difficult to navigate. One of the most important aspects of FMLA is eligibility. If an employee is not eligible under the statute, then that employee is not entitled to the protections it provides. One question that some clients ask is whether an employer is required to periodically check the employee’s eligibility status with regard to FMLA coverage.
Employers must check eligibility if FMLA leave is requested
When an employer receives a request for FMLA leave, the first step is to determine whether the employee is actually eligible for FMLA leave. The same is true if the employer receives information that puts it on notice that an employee’s current leave may qualify for FMLA coverage. In those situations, employers are required to provide the employee with notice of eligibility to take FMLA leave and that notice must be provided within five business days.
When determining eligibility, the starting point is the first instance of leave for every FMLAqualifying reason in the 12-month period that applies. Every FMLA absence for the same qualifying reason will be counted as a single leave period. Once eligibility is determined for that particular reason, eligibility will not change during the same 12-month period.
Once an employee becomes eligible for FMLA leave for a particular qualifying reason, that eligibility does not change if the leave changes from continuous to intermittent or vice versa. Eligibility would not need to be reevaluated until the 12-month period ends.
Do I need to provide my employer with any notices?
As an employee, you are also required to provide certain notices to your employer, in order to comply with the FMLA’s regulations. First, you must let your employer know each time you need to take FMLA leave, as soon as possible. You are also required to respond to any questions your employer may ask for the purpose of determining whether the leave you are requesting qualifies for FMLA. If you do not comply, you run the risk of jeopardizing your FMLA rights.
Once you have been approved for a particular FMLA leave reason, you are required to notify your employer when additional leave is needed for that same reason. Such notification must reference the reason or the need for FMLA leave. An employee’s notice of a request for FMLA leave can be either written or verbal. However, if your notice is written, it would be best to do so in person. Email is not always a reliable method of providing important notices such as these.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Wrady Michel & King . You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!