The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. FMLA provides up to twelve weeks of excused, though unpaid, absence for an employee suffering from a serious health condition that prevents them from completing the tasks associated with their jobs, or for an employee who requires time off to care for a seriously ill family member. FMLA may also be taken by a mother or father who are having a new baby or adopting a child. In order to take time off for a health condition, you must obtain a certificate from your doctor validating that you have a serious health condition and that the time off is medically appropriate.
Learn about your FMLA rights. Common reasons employees use FMLA include complications due to pregnancy, childbirth or the adoption or fostering of a child; chronic and long-term conditions, including mental health issues and conditions that require ongoing treatment. In order to qualify for FMLA, you must have held your current job for at least twelve months and worked 1250 hours within the past year. You must also work for a company that employs fifty or more workers within a 75-mile radius of your work site.
Make an appointment to see your doctor. Describe the symptoms you're having and how they interfere with your ability to perform the duties associated with your job. Tell your doctor that you've decided to request FMLA, and ask if he or she is willing to sign the FMLA Certification Form.
Talk with your other healthcare providers if your primary care physician is not comfortable signing the Certification Form. If you suffer from depression, for instance, ask your psychiatrist to sign the form; if you are being treated for cancer, ask your oncologist to sign the form.
Notify your employer that you plan to take FMLA. If you have a planned procedure coming up that will necessitate your leave, give your employer 30 days' notice. If the need for FMLA arose suddenly, give your employer as much notice as you can.
Ask your employer to provide you with the FMLA Certification Form for your doctor or healthcare provider to complete. Some employers rarely deal with FMLA and are not familiar with the required forms. If your employer cannot come up with an FMLA Certification Form, they are available online.
Have your employer complete the first section of the form. You, as the employee, should complete the second section. Your doctor should complete the third. Ask to be present when the doctor completes the form so that you can answer any questions he or she might have and so that you can be sure the form is completed fully and accurately.
Deliver the FMLA Certification Form to your employer within 15 days of receiving it.
When applying for FMLA, you can ask for continuous leave, intermittent leave, or a reduced work schedule. Decide with your doctor what type of leave would benefit you the most. Your doctor may ask you to pay a small fee, usually $10 to $50, for the completion of the FMLA Certification Form.
Your employer may ask you to see a company doctor if he or she does not accept your doctor's certification. If the company doctor's opinion as to whether or not you need leave differs from your physician's, your employer must pay for a third doctor, agreed upon by both of you, to give a final opinion.