How Long Does FMLA Last? Employer Quick Tips to Stay Compliant

how long does fmla last

How long does FMLA last? Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covered employers are responsible for not only knowing how much FMLA leave is afforded to eligible employees, but exactly how much leave their employees have used as well. With the Department of Labor’s (DOL) increased scrutiny toward FMLA compliance beginning in 2022, employers can’t afford to take chances with FMLA rules and regulations. Let’s dive in to the question “How long does FMLA last?” and how employers can best fulfill their responsibilities.

Under the FMLA, eligible employees who work for covered employers may use up to 12 weeks of protected leave in a 12-month period. Additionally, protected leave increases from 12 weeks in 12 months to 26 weeks in 12 months if the eligible employee is providing care for a covered military service member who experienced a qualifying injury or illness. Caregivers may be the service member’s spouse, parent, child, or next-of-kin. As you can see, there are many conditions that play into who is afforded protected leave, and it is the employer’s responsibility to correctly assess an employee’s approval or denial of leave.

Eligible employees may take their protected leave of 12 weeks (or 26 weeks for military) within a 12-month period. But who decides what that 12-month period is? The answer is the employer! According to the DOL, employers have four options when determining the 12-month period where covered leave applies. Employers may choose any of:

  1. Calendar year
  2. Fixed 12-month leave year
  3. 12-month period measured forward from the date any employee’s first FMLA leave begins; or
  4. “Rolling” 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave

So how long does FMLA last? An employee’s total allowed leave time depends on their situation, and the leave period is up to the employer. Employers must then understand what qualifies as FMLA leave and when to begin tracking it against the employee’s bank of remaining protected leave. See our previous blog post regarding when to start tracking FMLA leave. Of course, it gets complicated very quickly, and mistakes can cost an organization a fortune.

Luckily, BASIC has become a nationwide leader in FMLA administration for employers. BASIC has expertise, knowledge, and superior technology along with our robust proprietary software. We can help employers administer their FMLA effectively, efficiently, and with expert compliance. We take the worry out of FMLA compliance with fair and consistent application of the FMLA, meeting Federal and State regulations for unpaid leaves of absence, and catching potential cases of FMLA abuse. BASIC’s team of FMLA experts can even handle intermittent leave, the most difficult aspect of FMLA administration. With easy-to-use Employer and Employee portals, BASIC’s FMLA tracking and administering leave is very user friendly, straightforward, and painless.