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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave (26 weeks for military caregiver leave) each year for FMLA-qualifying reasons. Because FMLA leave is unpaid, employees often request time off under another leave program, such as paid sick leave or paid time off (PTO).
An opinion letter from the Department of Labor (DOL) clarifies that employers cannot delay designating paid leave as FMLA leave, even if the employee would prefer this delay. Employers must notify employees that their leave is FMLA-protected within five days of obtaining enough information to make this determination.
Employers should be prepared to timely designate time off as FMLA leave and count it against employees’ annual leave entitlement. To identify when employees’ time off requests should be designated as FMLA leave, managers and supervisors must be able to recognize FMLA-qualifying reasons for leave.
- An eligible employee’s absence for an FMLA-qualifying reason must be designated as FMLA leave.
- An employer may not delay this designation, even if an employee does not request FMLA leave because he or she is using paid leave for the absence.
- The absence must count against the employee’s annual FMLA leave entitlement.
- The Employer’s Guide to the FMLA, a DOL publication
- The DOL’s webpage on FMLA compliance, including links to model forms
- DOL opinion letter (FMLA2019-1-A) on designating FMLA leave
Source: © 2018 Zywave, Inc.
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