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Ask the HR Expert — FMLA

Jill Schaefer /

Q: I have an employee who is out sick and will need surgery. I need to know if we’re supposed to ask him if he wants FMLA or if he needs to request FMLA himself? Also, if he says he wants it, what forms and guidelines do I need to follow? Is there a certain timeframe to fill out the paperwork?

A: Employees eligible for benefits under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Employers need to inform employees of their rights under FMLA while employees must inform their employers as soon as possible of their need for FMLA time off.

You want to confirm that your employee meets criteria for FMLA eligibility. See the U.S. Department of Labor’s FMLA fact sheet.

Provide employees considering FMLA with the following documents. These FMLA forms are available within KPA’s HRDrive® software.

  • FMLA Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities
  • FMLA Leave Request Form
  • FMLA Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition

For the medical certification, employees typically have 15 days to provide this information back to you.

Bottom Line:
Employers with 50+ employees who have worked for you for at least a year may be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for qualifying medical circumstances. Don’t keep this information from employees. Additional state laws may apply too.

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