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An Important FMLA Rule You May Not Know About


The basic premise of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is pretty straightforward: Eligible employees are entitled to take job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

But as human resource professionals know, the law has produced some tricky issues and includes some rules that are not always readily apparent.

Time for a quick FMLA quiz

Susan works for an FMLA-covered employer on a full-time basis for three months before quitting for another job. The second job does not work out and after just a month she returns to work for the first employer — again on a full-time basis. Nine months later, she gives birth and asks for FMLA leave. Is she entitled to it?

To be eligible for FMLA leave, employees must meet the following requirements:

  • They must work for a covered employer for at least 12 months.
  • They must have at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12 months.
  • They must work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

Two out of three?

In our example, Susan meets the 1,250-hour requirement, and the employer has enough employees to be subject to the statute's requirements

That leaves one important question: Do Susan's first three months of employment for the first employer count toward the 12-month requirement?

If they do, she has met all applicable requirements and is entitled to FMLA leave. If they do not and the 12-month clock restarted from the beginning when she returned, she is not entitled to FMLA leave.

The answer: The first three months do count for the purpose of calculating the applicable 12-month period.

Do not forget about seasonal workers

The scenario described above is one example of how a break in service time may take place. Another example that may be more common: Employees who work on a seasonal basis. Remember: A break in service generally does not restart the clock for eligibility.

That is the general rule. Like many other rules, it has an exception.

The exception is this: If there is a break in service that lasts more than seven years, then the service period preceding the break is not counted toward the 12-month requirement.

However, there is an exception to the exception: If a seven-year break in service is due to military obligations or if a written agreement addresses the employer's intention to rehire the employee after the break, then service from more than seven years earlier can be counted toward the FMLA 12-month requirement.

Administering FMLA properly can get tricky, and fast.

Remember this rule

Remember: When determining whether an employee has met the applicable 12-month service requirement, those 12 months do not need to be consecutive months of service.

Posted In: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Want to know more? Read the full article by at HR Morning

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