When you encounter a serious health condition or need to care for a family member, you might think about taking time off from work. The Family and Medical Leave Act, passed in 1993, allows eligible employees in the United States to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave within a 12-month period for specific family and medical reasons.
But what if your employer denies your request? Can they legitimately turn down your FMLA application?
Your rights under FMLA
You must recognize that while FMLA provides protection, both you and your employer must meet specific criteria. First, the company you work for should employ at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius for you to qualify for FMLA. If your workplace does not have this number of employees, they can deny your request.
Additionally, you should have worked with your employer for at least 12 months and completed 1,250 hours during that time. If you have not achieved this, your employer can refuse your FMLA leave request.
Reasons for leave and employer refusal
Valid FMLA leave reasons include the birth of a child, caring for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition, recovering from a severe health condition that keeps you from performing your job or addressing urgent matters due to a family member’s military deployment. Ensure your reason matches these; otherwise, your employer can reject your request.
If you do not provide the correct or complete documentation related to your leave, your employer can ask you for clarification or verification. Not supplying the necessary documentation can result in a denial.
A denied FMLA request
If you satisfy all the criteria and supply the proper documentation, but your employer still denies your request, consult with your Human Resources department. They can explain why they denied your request and advise you on how to proceed. Always remember that clear communication can solve many workplace challenges.
California also has its family and medical leave laws, known as the California Family Rights Act. It shares many of the FMLA’s provisions but also has some distinctions. If your employer denies your FMLA request, you might still qualify under CFRA, so it is beneficial to look into it.
The FMLA gives protections to eligible employees, but you must meet specific criteria and documentation requirements. Taking care of yourself and your loved ones remains important, and knowing these laws helps safeguard that right.