Fitzgibbons Law Offices - Casa Grande and Maricopa Lawyers


Tina Vannucci, Casa Grande Business Attorney


Fitzgibbons Law Offices
1115 E. Cottonwood Lane
Suite 150
Casa Grande, AZ 85122


Employment Law

April 2018

Employee Time Off Pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA requires covered employers to provide employees with job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons.

While mandatory paid sick leave and regular vacation time are often sufficient to accommodate employees who suffer from a serious medical condition or must care for a sick or injured family member, there are instances in which additional time off is required.

It is situations such as those that gave rise to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which became federal law in 1993. Intended to “balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families," the FMLA requires covered employers (see “Eligibility” below) to provide employees with job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. Those reasons include pregnancy, adoption, foster care placement of a child, personal or family illness, or family military leave.


FMLA is required to be provided by all federal, state and local government agencies; all elementary and secondary schools; and any company with 50 or more employees. Such employers must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year:

• for the birth and care of the employee’s newborn child;

• for the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care;

• to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) who has a serious health condition;

• for medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition;

• to handle a qualifying urgent need or demand arising out of a family member’s military service; or

• for Military Caregiver Leave (to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the service member). Under certain circumstances, this FMLA leave can be extended up to 26 weeks during a year.

To be eligible for FMLA leave, employees must have worked for the employer at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius for at least a year. The employee must also have worked at least 1,250 compensable hours over the past 12 months.

The amount of leave allowed by FMLA is generally limited to 12 weeks per year, regardless of the number of qualifying conditions an employee or their family members experience during that year. In addition, FMLA leave may be taken intermittently to allow protection for serious health conditions that may not be constant and, instead, flare up or require various doctor appointments or medical treatments.

Notice by Employee

In general, the employee must give the employer at least 30 days advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave, when he or she knows about the need for the leave in advance and it is possible and practical to do so. For planned medical treatment, the employee must consult with the employer and try to schedule the appointment at a time that minimizes the disruption to the employer.

When the need for leave is unexpected, the employee must provide notice to the employer as soon as possible and practical.

Protection of FMLA

When FMLA leave ends, the employee is usually entitled to be reinstated to the same or equivalent position. This means the employee should return to the same pay, benefits and duties as they had prior to taking FMLA leave. Additionally, employers cannot interfere with, discipline, or retaliate against an employee who takes FMLA leave. (FMLA enforcement is a function of the Wage & Hours Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.)

During leave taken pursuant to FMLA, an employee is also entitled to continued health insurance coverage at the same cost they paid while working. Depending on the employer’s policies, an employee may be allowed or required to use any accrued paid leave concurrently with FMLA leave.

Complying with FMLA requirements can be challenging for employers and employees alike and requires that both parties understand the FMLA’s major provisions and the employer’s FMLA policy.

For assistance in working through the requirements of FMLA, you are invited to contact Fitzgibbons Law Offices at 520-426-3824.

More about Fitzgibbons Law Offices' employment law services for employers and employees.