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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

How do I request FMLA leave?

request FMLA

How do I request FMLA leave when I need it?

The United States Department of Labor’s Family and Medical Leave Act provides employees job-protected unpaid leave for qualifying family and medical conditions. Do you meet the eligibility criteria under this federal law? If so, you may be wondering how to request FMLA leave.

Give Notice if you need to Request FMLA Leave

Giving your employer appropriate notice is the first action you should take if you have to take FMLA leave. At this point, you do not have to specifically ask for FMLA leave. You do, however, have to give your employer enough information about your condition so that he or she is aware that it may be covered under the law.

The general guidelines for giving notice are as follows:

If you need to take FMLA leave 30 days from today (or later)

If you are aware of your need to take FMLA leave in advance, you have to give your employer notice at least 30 days in advance. In what situations would you know in advance? If you need to have surgery performed or are taking FMLA leave for your pregnancy, for example, you can give notice 30 days in advance.

If you need to take FMLA leave in less than 30 days

If you are not able to give notice 30 days in advance, you must give your employer notice as soon as you realize your need for FMLA leave. This means you must inform your employer on the day you realize your need or the next business day.

If you need to take FMLA leave unexpectedly

If the need for FMLA leave arises unexpectedly, you must inform your employer as soon as you can. For example, if a family member is injured in an accident, you must follow your employer’s procedures for giving notice. Your employer may require, for example, that you call the office to let someone know you cannot make it to work. What if you yourself are receiving emergency medical care? In this case, you would have to notify your employer of your situation when possible.

How to Request FMLA Leave and What Happens Next

  1. Notify your employer when you realize you will need to take leave.

  2. Your employer will inform you whether or not you are eligible for FMLA leave within 5 business days. If you are eligible, your employer will inform you of your FMLA rights and responsibilities and may request certification of your family or medical condition.

  3. If requested, you must provide your employer with certification of your family or medical condition within 15 calendar days.

  4. Your employer must notify you whether your leave is designated as FMLA leave within 5 business days.

When you Request FMLA Leave, Remember:

  1. You do not need to mention a specific diagnosis as long as you provide your employer with enough information about your condition that he or she would be aware that it might be covered.

  2. If you need additional leave for an already-approved condition (e.g., you need time off for recurring migraines), you must mention that condition in your request or specifically request FMLA leave.

  3. You have responsibilities when you are on FMLA leave. For example, if your doctor determines that you can go back to work sooner than expected, you must notify your employer.

  4. When you go back to work, you have a right to return to the same job or a nearly identical one.

  5. If you are denied FMLA leave, you can request it again in the future. Your eligibility can change with time.

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You can contact an employment attorney if you have questions or concerns about requesting FMLA leave or about the law’s eligibility requirements. If you believe an employer violated your rights under the FMLA, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced employment attorney for a free and immediate consultation. Call KM&A at 412-626-5626 or 215-618-9185. We can also be reached by email at

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