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What Employers Need to Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act

More than two decades ago, the Family and Medical Leave Act was established so workers wouldn’t have to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one, and the job that they need. We know that most employers want to properly comply with the FMLA’s promise of leave without pay and guaranteed job protection, yet they have a lot on their plates − from worrying about keeping their businesses on track to facilitating positive morale and well-being among employees. We’ve heard from many across the country who have requested compliance assistance to understand the details of the FMLA so they can do right by their workers. At the Wage and Hour Division, we believe if we help employers understand their responsibilities under the FMLA, we can all work together to help employees take leave when necessary to care for their families or their own serious health conditions. As a result, we’ve created a new comprehensive, plain-language and visually rich resource for FMLA administration. The Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act has been designed especially for employers, managers, human resources specialists and professional leave administrators. The chapters walk readers step-by-step through the FMLA leave administration process. Download the PDF online or order free copies here. As part of the guide’s creation, we sough feedback from various employers and human resource professionals that helped us refine the materials. And we have already received positive feedback from employers and industry associations. Check out the guide today, and share it with your co-workers and networks. We’re very proud of this dynamic new resource, and will be sharing it far and wide through our many outreach efforts and engagements. Helen Applewhaite is chief of the Wage and Hour Division’s FMLA branch.


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Does the family medical leave of absence cover paid of days?for medical purposes?
Our federal government in general and the DOL in particular have dumbed down to the point at which they rely on cartoons to try to'help and "gude" employers; any emplyer with the slightest intelligence does not need such a kindergarten approach.
Muy buenas medidas,que beneficiaran a los obreros y sus familias.
Thank you for providing the booklet. Question: Employee is granted FMLA due to serious health condition of parent in another state. Employee had to wait for another family member to arrive before leaving to return to home; this was a 12 hr drive and she left afternoon on an otherwise scheduled workday, drove half way and then completed the trip the following day. Employer advised "travel time" was not recognized part of the FMLA and caused the employee to take personal annual leave. I do not see this addressed in the booklet. Please advise if this is correct and I appreciate your response. Thank you.

In reply to by Brenda Chapman (not verified)

My quick take: If it’s clear that the employee will be required to care for the family member beginning on Day X, then a court likely would find that the travel necessary to get to the destination by Day X is so intertwined with the need for leave that it should be considered part of the protected leave as well. Although not directly on point, take the recent case of Lane v. Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital. The court’s ruling implies that where acts like “travel” to the family member are so intertwined or necessary to the need for leave itself, it should be considered part of the FMLA leave.
It's nice to know that I am not alone in that feeling. There are probably thousands of us employers reading this weekly report to be educated and do the right thing. However, it feels like this administration just think employers are awful people.
There's a lot of general information about the FMLA at But for questions about specific scenarios, you can contact the Wage and Hour Division directly at 1-866-4-US-Wage or
I've been trying to qualify for FMLA for three years. My employer uses the calendar year with a rolling year look back. I am a union officer and away on union business a lot. The hours I'm working on union business doesn't count toward hours worked in the plant. I guess I can't be an employer and union officer at the same time. Something is wrong with that picture.
Wow!!! This the first DOL blog post that I've ever read here that says something positive about employers! I realize it's to promote the booklet on FMLA, but a good job by Helen for being honest and real about the majority of employers in this country!
I wanted to go on bonding leave with my child. During my pregnancy I had much complications. I almost died during my delivery so I was on disability for some time. My employer's management team is open for me to take bonding. However, human resource say that I don't qualified for bonding because I used my bonding during disability. She stated I can take bonding if management qualified me but I need to pay cobra and that my job is UNPROTECTED but i'm NOT QUALIFIED FOR BONDING. I am still under medical treatment but worried about my work and went back to work for over 6 months. 1.) If I never applied for bonding/family leave how could I have used it up when I was under disability. 2.) How can you use my bonding during disability? Mind you I have worked for this company for 13 years and this event occurred in my life and this is how the very company I am loyal to treats me in my disastrous event. Before this, I never used any medical leave.

In reply to by Bien N. (not verified)

FMLA leave can be used for a serious medical condition as well as bonding after child birth. Your FMLA leave was used to protect your job during the complications associated with your pregnancy. So you must have exhausted all 12 weeks of FMLA protected leave. The employer is allowed to run your disability time off concurrent with FMLA leave - you don't have to apply for baby bonding/family leave for it to apply. Based on my experience in having to share similar information with my staff, I would say that it's not personal. If you have been employed 13 years and have been a valued member of the team, you should consider applying for some time off to bond with your baby. I understand that it's scary whenever HR has to say the words "your job is not protected," but we have to say that. I would look at past precedent where employees requested unpaid time off and if they were allowed to take the time and were returned to their positions when the leave was up, then go for it. If they were separated from the company, then no, don't do it. You should review your personnel manual for the "unpaid leave" policy. For the most part, your HR manager is only quoting the policy to you. Your company probably has a policy that terminates your insurance coverage when an employee separates or takes unpaid leave; that's why she's saying COBRA would kick in. You may just want to go and speak with the HR manager again.
A company will lead to success only when it looks after its employee and provides them with a beneficials . Thanks a lot for sharing such a good information i liked it very much .
This handbook would be more helpful if it included specific remedies for FMLA abuse by employees with chronic conditions that call in sick with little or no notice. These are the habitual employees that extend their weekends and vacations by calling off on their Fridays, Mondays, second half of split shifts, etc. And the couples that have different days off that call off on the other half's days off, vacations, etc. I work for a public transportation agency and these employees are almost always directly responsible for service interruptions to the public. Our HR Dept. seems reluctant to pursue these abusers since "....FMLA is a protected status and there is little or nothing we can do....". Therefore over the past few years, FMLA has become a free pass for these employees to work as they please.
I had to take FMLA due to surgeries. My rights were violated the day before I went on leave. I was told that when I returned my new job location would be 39 miles away from the location I was working at. I live in a large city and would have spent 3-4 hours per day just commuting whereas with my regular location my commute was 10 mins max. While Trying to recover from surgery, I hired an attorney and ultimately they said I could have my job back at my regular location. Well this cost me $2000! Do I have any recourse even though they have me my job back?

In reply to by Lisa (not verified)

Lisa, please contact our Wage and Hour Division by calling 1-866-4US-WAGE or sending an email here.

How long do employers have to respond? I've had fmla for a chronic condition and requested fmla Jan 10th, 2017. On Feb 14th, after I sent a email with my papers attached again, they informed me I hadn't been processed. Later on the same day I was informed I'm 3 hours shy of 1250 hours worked. I sent an employer related document stating I have more than 1400 hours on February 16th, 2017....and have yet to get a response. What recourse do I have?

Sue, for questions about specific scenarios, you can contact the Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-4-US-Wage or

Sue, please call 1-866-487-9243 or contact your local Wage and Hour Division office for assistance:

If the original position or similar position is not available at the time employee returns from medical leave but we offer the employee a different position how long does the employee have to make a decision regarding the said position?

Angela, please call 1-866-487-9243 or contact your local Wage and Hour Division office for assistance:

Angela, please call 1-866-487-9243 or contact your local Wage and Hour Division office for assistance:

In January 2017, I filed for FMLA on behalf of my Mother. In March 2017 I was told by word of mouth that my FMLA had been approved.

On June 13, 2017, my world was turned upside down, being told that I used 400 hrs of FMLA which was over the limit. I was told that I would not receive a check until it was paid in full. I would not be able to make payments, I have to pay it back the same way I received it.

June 13, 2017, was not my first day back to work; it’s the date they chose to inform me that I would not get a check on the 15th.
When I began to use FMLA, I called my Supervisor every week to let him know that I would be out. My Supervisor kept record of my attendance; he never said anything about my time. No one sit down with me to discuss how long I have to be off or when I should return to work. I know FMLA is for the purpose of staying employed, which I am, but I trusted those who were in my chain of command to do their job as well.

Regina, please call 1-866-487-9243 or contact your local Wage and Hour Division office for assistance:

I have worked in my current position for twenty plus years, and needed to file for FMLA provisions in December 2016. The need was to care for my elderly mother, who lives with me, and is intermittent / unforeseeable FMLA. To date, I have used considerably fewer than 480 hours of leave that was related to said FMLA.

The branch where I had been working is two miles from my home, and takes ten to twelve minutes to drive. Many days, I have been able to go home in the middle of the day, check on my mom, and return to work within the hour time frame allowed for lunch. With this, I have not had to use extra leave balances or impose undue hardship to the schedule at the branch. Other unforeseen circumstances with my mom, or appointments and needs of various kinds for her, have resulted in my using accumulated leave since December of 2016. To date, I have used around 120 hours of leave related to said FMLA. The proximity to my home is a huge deal with regard to a matter that may be urgent in nature, but doesn't necessarily require a 911 call, as I am able to get to her in less than fifteen minutes, and quite often able to return to work after handling the situation, or making arrangements for my mom.

On May 30, 2017, our Director instructed my immediate supervisor to inform me that I was to be transferred to the another branch effective July 10, 2017. My supervisor complied with the directive and notified me of this reassignment. This was alarming news for me, as the other branch is 13 miles from my home and takes 30 to 45 minutes to drive, so the panic of being that far from my home/mom was a bit overwhelming. I'd be forced to use far more of my leave balances, and the middle of the day check in couldn't be done in the allotted hour for our lunches. I began to look into the possibility that my FMLA status might protect me from being moved and the hardships this potential change would impose on my family and me. I found CFR title 29 825.101 and 825.204 sections d and e (see links below), and feel like these are the most relevant to my situation. I shared my findings with my supervisor, who informed the Director of this, and he decided to hold my transfer until September. On August 15, he decided that my move would be effective right after Labor Day. My supervisor reminded him that my FMLA status remains unchanged, but he didn't seem to have any regard for this at this time. I began reporting to the further branch the day after Labor Day, in order to avoid a charge of insubordination. This reassignment has not only resulted in a logistical hardship, but an emotional one as well, while forcing me to use far more of my leave balances than had been required for similar needs while assigned at the original branch. It has drastically affected my ability to balance my work schedule with the needs of my family/FMLA situation. Additionally, the strain to the scheduling at work, has been impacted.

While I feel personally violated, I feel that my FMLA rights have been violated as well.

My spouse has depression she has fmla
I take care of her when she’s not well
I finish all my vacation and sick time and I don’t have enough time available to take her to dr appointment or take care of her
To get fmla do I have to ask her dr?

I have used FM:A on 2 seprate years due to my husband have chronic medical issues.. Most time used was 8 weeks, not all at one time. It was spread out over time. I was recently terminated and told I was out too much and that when I was there I couldn't seem to get caught up. I asked didn't my flma cover me for being out with my husban and they said
(oh it ran out in December.)
Are they in any way responsible for letting me know my FLMA was over. I was out with my husband for 2 weeks in Jan and in March is when I was terminated and advised that flma had ended. I did not realize that I needed my FLMA filled out again.