The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.Your Heading Text Here

FMLA Overview

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may be confusing, especially as it relates to chronic headache and migraine. In fact, it may not be widely known that migraine is listed under FMLA as a qualifying reason for medical leave. In order to understand FMLA better, here are some FAQs.

First and foremost, FMLA is a right guaranteed by law. Even if an employer is not notified before leave has already started, as long as the event qualifies, there should be no change to an employer’s seniority, pay, or benefits upon return to work. You employer cannot deny your leave because the application was no filled out in time.

How is an employer eligible?

  • FMLA is available to an employee who works for a private employer with 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius, or for local, state, or federal government office regardless of the number of employees.

How does an employer become eligible?

  • In order to be eligible, an employee must be employed for 12 months at a minimum of 24 hours per week. This means that both full-time and part-time employees are eligible for FMLA.

What are some reasons for an employee to use FMLA?

  • If/when an employee is under the care of a healthcare provider for three days or more. This includes hospitalization (as an inpatient) or receiving two or more treatments from a healthcare provider for the same illness within 30 days.
  • If an employee is under a regimen including two healthcare provider visits in the past year.
  • Chronic health conditions of a serious nature.
  • Care for a newborn child or newly placed foster child. New parents have the right to leave for this reason ends 12 months after the event.
  • Taking care of others, such as a spouse, child, or parent with serious health conditions.
  • To care for a returning member of the armed forces. In this circumstance, the employee can take up to 26 weeks of leave.

What are the benefits of FMLA?

  • It provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
  • Many employers will allow an employee to substitute paid time off such as vacation or PTO and count it as part of the leave time.
  • FMLA also assures that in most cases, an employee on a leave, will not lose health benefits, employment, or seniority.
  • Upon return, the employee must be reinstated into the same or equal position he/she held prior to the leave.

Do I have to take the leave at one time?

  • No, it can be provided in a block format, where the time is all taken at once, or intermittently.
  • When taken incrementally, FMLA leave can be taken in amounts as small as your employer’s timekeeping system will allow; often as small as 15 minutes.

Is headache an eligible illness under FMLA?

  • Cluster headaches and migraines are eligible for FMLA, a common headache is not.

How does an employee apply?

  • According to the Department of Labor, an employee must notify their employer of the leave in a timely fashion. For example, if an employee has a scheduled surgery, there’s ample time to apply before the day of your surgery.
  • In emergency or unplanned instances, such as an injured family member, an employee should notify his/her employer of the leave as soon as possible.
  • In order to receive FMLA leave, an employee must disclose the reasons why their condition/situation is eligible.
  • One does not need to disclose a specific diagnosis or illness to their employer but may be asked to provide information from their health provider about treatment regimen, frequency that the condition interrupts one’s work schedule, etc. to establish eligibility for FMLA.
  • If not enough information is forthcoming, your employer can deny the leave request until satisfactory information is provided.

For access to the forms, click here.

As an employee, are there responsibilities related to work while on leave?

  • Employees may be required to report to their employer about their status, usually no more than every six weeks, and what date they intend to return to work.
  • In some cases, the employee may undergo a fitness-for-duty test for a medical certificate in order to return to work.

Can the 12-week leave be extended?

  • An extension can be added in addition to the 12 weeks, under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • The extension is conditioned on whether it would cause an undue hardship to the employer, and depends on variety of factors. For example, a retail employee requesting an extension during peak holiday shopping season may be denied since employees are essential to assist a busy store. There may be a job the employee can be assigned to that is not related to sales.
  • Each request must be considered on the specific aspects and impacts that that an extension would have on the workplace.