Updated October 12,2020:

How Long Does FMLA Last?

If you're wondering how long does FMLA last, here's what you need to know. FMLA, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, was introduced in 1993 and is a U.S. Federal Law. The FMLA entitles employees to take time off from work without pay for matters related to family emergencies and health matters that are covered under the act. An employee can receive up to 12 weeks of leave, and up to 26 weeks for issues that relate to relatives who are service members and require care.

There are eligibility requirements set out by FMLA relating to the employee's length of service and the size of the company in question. These are as follows:

  • The individual that is applying for leave under FMLA must have been working at the company for at least 12 months and worked for at least 1,250 hours since starting there.
  • The employer must employ a minimum of 50 employees within 75 miles.

If employers violate the FMLA, they may have to compensate the employee including the wages, benefits, money loss to the employee, interest, and other compensation that the employee was denied or lost because of the violation. Other forms of compensation can also be used including reinstatement or promotion.

Leave Type Definitions

The FMLA breaks down eligible leave types into the categories of medical and personal leave. Each respective leave type covers the matters that are specified below.

Matters Covered Under Medical Leave (FMLA)

  • An employee giving birth.
  • An employee experiencing a severe health issue that requires inpatient care or ongoing treatment.

Matters Covered Under Personal Leave (FMLA)

  • To take care of a family member experiencing a serious health complaint (including service members).
  • Care of a newborn child born to a spouse.
  • Adoption of a child.
  • Foster care of a child under the employee's care.
  • Other matters relating to the placement of a child that directly involve the employee.

Leave Credits

Employees are entitled to a total of 12 weeks of family and medical leave during any one-year period while working for the company. Matters that are covered under this are those which are outlined in the previous section. The 12 weeks of leave can be taken for any single instance, or combination of eligible scenarios.

Advance Notice and Medical Certification

If an employee is taking a period of absence, then they may be requested to provide notice of advance leave to their employer along with a medical certification. The request may be denied if the standard requirements are not met. The employee is generally required to:

  • Provide at least 30 days of advance notice when they can foresee the leave of absence.
  • Provide medical certification if taking leave due to a medical condition. Employees may have to obtain a second opinion, and even a third opinion if the second conflicts with the first.
  • If employees are approved leave based on medical reasons, they could be expected to complete a "fit for work" assessment prior to returning to work.

Short-Term Disability vs. Long-Term Disability

If employees suffer from a disability, then insurance for either short-term or long-term disability is available and intended to provide individuals with a replacement income if they are unable to work as a result of sickness or injury.

The definition of "disability" varies depending on the specific policy, as do the conditions under which the individual can collect benefits. The main differences between long-term and short-term disability coverage are specified below.

Long-term Disability:

  • In order to become eligible, employees typically must satisfy a time-in-service requirement
  • Can begin as an extension of leave initially intended as a short-term disability leave
  • Used in instances of long-term absence from the workplace

Short-term Disability

  • Only covers employees for a limited period of time
  • Examples of covered illnesses include accidents and non-terminal sickness
  • Typically used for major, but somewhat brief disabilities
  • Only partial income protection is offered, often in the region of 60 percent coverage

If you are currently dealing with a situation where an employee is request FMLA leave and you are not certain they qualify or you need any further advice, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.