Rules Corner: Clear up Misconceptions about FMLA

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for qualifying reasons, yet misconceptions abound over what qualifies for FMLAand what happens when an employee returns to work. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about FMLA.


  1. Do I qualify to apply for FMLA?
  2. Family and/or medical leave may be granted for the following reasons, according to DHRM Rule 477-715:
  • The birth of a child, and to care for a newborn
  • The adoption or foster care of a child
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
  • When a serious health condition prevents performance of essential work functions.
  • To care for an eligible military service member or veteran, (a spouse, child, parent, or next-of-kin) with a serious illness or injury sustained or aggravated while on active duty
  • For a qualifying exigency arising out of certain enumerated exigencies relating to a spouse, child, or parent’s active duty in the armed forces in a foreign country
  1. Does a ‘serious health condition’ include physical and psychological care?
  2. Answer: Yes. However, remember that an employee must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours and been with the agency at least one year to qualify.
  3. Can both parents use FMLA for the birth or adoption of a child?
  4. Both mothers and fathers have the right to take FMLA leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
  5. What happens if my position is no longer available when I return from FLMA leave?
  6. An employer must restore an employee returning from FMLA leave to the same or an equivalent (virtually identical) position. This is one of the many benefits to using FMLA rather than sick leave or vacation days. Before passage of FMLA , employers could terminate employees absent from work for a family or medical reason without recourse. Using FMLA leave helps protect your job.
  7. Does my employer have the right to request a medical certification that verifies my serious health condition?
  8. An employer has the right to request medical certification that an employee has a ‘serious health condition’ from a healthcare provider. An employer also has the right to require an employee returning from FMLA leave to provide a fitness for duty certification before returning to work.

FMLA is a great resource for  those who need it. It is important for employees to be aware of their employers’ FMLA policies and procedures because they can vary from agency to agency. Please reach out to UPEA with questions or concerns about FMLA.


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