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Aug16

FMLA Eligibility

I have an employee that was out on FMLA 7/7/2015 through 9/10/2015 and now requested another leave for 7/1/2016. Are they eligible?

The federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave in a defined 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. Whether the employee in question is eligible for FMLA leave depends on which method is used for determining the 12-month period.

Employers may select one of four options to establish the 12-month period: the calendar year, any fixed 12-months, the 12-month period measured forward, or a rolling 12-month period measured backward. An employer may select any method as long as it’s applied uniformly and consistently with all employees.

The calendar year and fixed 12-months are fairly straightforward. Under these methods, an employee is eligible for the full 12-week leave entitlement either on January 1st or at the start of a new 12-month period.

The measuring forward and backward methods need a little more explanation but are actually more commonly used since they prevent employees from stacking leave time.

When measuring forward, the available FMLA leave amount is measured from the first date an employee takes FMLA leave. The next 12 -month period would begin the first time FMLA leave is taken after completion of the prior 12-month period.

In this case, the employee’s 12-month period is July 7, 2015 to July 6. 2016.

When measuring backward (often called the rolling method because it’s rolling backwards), the 12-month period is measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave. Under this method, each time an employee takes FMLA leave, the remaining leave entitlement would be the balance of the 12 weeks which has not been used during the immediately preceding 12 months.

In this case, since the employee requested leave to begin on July 1st, you look back 12 months (from July 1st to the previous July 2nd) to see if any FMLA time had been used. If so, the time used is deducted from the total entitlement. As the days of previous leave roll off, the employee would be eligible for more time.

Under the regulations, if an employer fails to select one of the aforementioned methods (which it sounds like may be the case), the employer must use the 12-month period method that most benefits the employee.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 at 8:31 pm and is filed under
Labor Laws.
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