When Does FMLA Start? Pro-tips for Employers to Avoid Lawsuits and Penalties

when does FMLA start

Employees with rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are allowed to take up to 12 weeks (or 26-weeks for military) of protected leave in a 12-month period, but when does FMLA start? How do you know when to start tracking an employee’s absence as FMLA covered leave? Ultimately, it is the employer’s responsibility to accurately track FMLA leave, making it critical to do so accurately. Without an FMLA compliance partner like BASIC, employers are vulnerable to significant risk. BASIC has previously covered examples of violations, including one that resulted in a seven figure financial payout!

When Does FMLA Start?

Once an employer knows that an absence or medical situation qualifies under FMLA, the employer must begin tracking the employee’s leave and designate the entire absence as FMLA leave, the employer must then begin tracking the leave against the employee’s 12-weeks (or 26 weeks) of FMLA-protected leave, regardless of whether the employee explicitly states that their leave qualifies or not. In fact, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion in 2019 stating that employers “may not delay the designation of FMLA-qualifying leave or designate more than 12 weeks of leave as FMLA leave.”

Not only is leave designation the employer’s responsibility, and employee’s 12 weeks (or 26 weeks) of protected leave may be taken intermittently and in smaller increments, such as a couple hours during a  day or every other week. Intermittent FMLA leave is the most difficult to track for employers and brings even more risk for maintaining compliance, making it even more important to contract a compliance partner such as BASIC. Tracking intermittent FMLA leave is one of our specialties!

BASIC Offers FMLA Administration for Every Organization

BASIC FMLA Administration can help employers of all sizes, with five levels of service to fit the specific needs of any organization. We take the worry out of FMLA compliance with fair and consistent application of the FMLA, meeting Federal and State regulations, 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 FMLA makes tracking and administering leave straightforward and painless. Plus, you’ll never feel lost with a dedicated BASIC FMLA case manager just a phone call or email away.