How do I request a medical leave of absence under the FMLA?


Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) eligible employees are entitled to a 12-week, job protected medical leave. In order to qualify for FMLA leave you must: 1) have worked for your employer for 12 months; 2) have worked at least 1250 hours; and 3) work for an employer who has at least 50 employees. Under the FMLA you are entitled to a leave of absence of up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. Under the FMLA you are entitled to take a leave of absence for any of the following reasons: 

  • For the birth of a son or daughter, and to bond with the newborn child;
  • For the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, and to bond with that child;
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent – but not a parent “in-law”) with a serious health condition;
  • To care for your own serious health condition; or
  • For qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces.


If you are seeking FMLA leave you must provide 30-days advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable. If leave is not foreseeable, then the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable . There are no magic words which must be used when requesting FMLA leave. So long as you have notified your employer that a medical leave of absence is needed, or that you or a family member is suffering from a serious medical condition, your employer must notify you that your leave may be qualified as FMLA leave. The employer must provide you with the requisite forms for you and a medical provider to fill out.  Be advised that your employer must allow you at least 15 days to provide them with the requisite medical certification.


Different types of medical conditions require different types of medical leaves. For instance someone who is having surgery may need a leave of absence for six consecutive weeks. While someone who suffers from migraines may just need intermittent leave which would allow the employee to take random days off as migraines occur.  Regardless of which type of leave you require, you are generally limited to 12 weeks total. 


Under the FMLA, an eligible employee is entitled to a combined total of 26 workweeks of military caregiver leave, provided that the employee may not take more than 12 workweeks of leave for any other FMLA-qualifying reason during this period. Military caregiver leave allows a parent, spouse, son, daughter, or next of kin to care for a covered service member, namely, a current (not former) member of the Armed Forces, including members of the National Guard and the Reserves, who are “undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness. The required medical certification for obtaining this leave can be filled by health care providers from: The United States Department of Defense (and its related health care providers) or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

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