If you work for a company that has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, you may be eligible to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you have worked for your employer for a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the date that you need to take leave to care for your own serious medical condition or the serious medical condition of a close family member, you should be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. Determining what is a 12-month period under the law can be confusing, however. The law allows businesses to use one of four methods to determine what constitutes the 12-month period during which their employees are allowed to take FMLA leave. At Swartz Swidler, we can help you to understand the 12-month period that your employer uses so that you can understand when you are eligible to take leave under the law.
How the 12-month periods for FMLA leave are calculated
Employers may use any of the following four methods to determine the 12-month period during which you can take 12 weeks of FMLA leave:
- The calendar year
- Any other 12-month leave year, including a year running from your anniversary date or the fiscal year
- Rolling 12-month periods that are measured back from the date that you first use FMLA leave
- 12-month periods measured into the future from the date that you first take FMLA leave
If your employer uses the calendar year, your anniversary date, or the fiscal year methods of calculating FMLA leave eligibility, you will be able to take 12 weeks of FMLA leave whenever you need to take your leave during that fixed time period. If you or a loved one had a qualifying medical condition, you could ostensibly take 12 weeks off from work at the end of the year followed by 12 weeks off at the beginning of the next year.
If your employer calculates the 12-month period by figuring 12 months forward from the date that you first take leave, you would be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off from work beginning on the first date that you take FMLA leave. You would be eligible to take another 12 weeks off on the anniversary date of the date that you took the first day of your FMLA leave.
If your employer uses the rolling calculation of leave method, the calculation is different. Every time that you take leave, your remaining entitlement would be whatever amount of the 12 weeks of leave that you have not used during the prior 12 months. For example, if you have taken six weeks of leave in the last 12 months, you could take six more weeks of leave. For example, if you take three weeks of leave on Aug. 1, 2019, five weeks of leave on Jan. 1, 2020, and four weeks of leave on April 1, 2020, you would not be eligible to take any more leave until Aug. 1, 2020. Employers who use this calculation method might need to figure out whether an employee is able to take leave every time that he or she requests leave.
How do you know which method your employer uses?
Your employer should explain the calculation method that it uses to calculate the 12-month time periods for FMLA leave in your employee handbook or in the company’s policies. Once an employer chooses a calculation method, it should be used uniformly with all of the employees of the company. If an employer wants to change the calculation method that it uses, it must give all of the employees a minimum of 60 days of notice. When employers are transitioning to the new method, the employees must be able to keep the 12 weeks of leave available to them under the method that provides them with the greatest benefit.
Get help from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler
Understanding how your employer calculates the 12-month periods for FMLA leave is important. If you become ill because of a serious health condition, or your loved one suffers a serious medical condition that requires you to help, you may be able to take up to 12 weeks off from your job under the FMLA. However, you are only entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave during the 12-month period that your employer uses. If your employer has denied your FMLA leave request, the attorneys at Swartz Swidler might be able to help. We can review your employee handbook or policy manual to determine how the time periods are calculated. If it appears that your employer wrongfully denied your leave, we can help you to file a claim against your employer. Schedule a free consultation today by filling out our online contact form.