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Can you ever deny an employee FMLA leave?

On Behalf of | Jul 20, 2020 | Employment Law for Employers |

If your company is subject to the Family Medical Leave Act and an employee is eligible to claim benefits, you must grant him or her leave for a qualifying request and preserve the employee’s position and health benefits until his or her return. Eligible employees have the right to claim up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying circumstances every year.

However, the FMLA imposes eligibility requirements for employees. This means that the claim must meet certain qualifications to be valid. Furthermore, FMLA does not apply to all employers.

Eligibility of employees

According to, the FMLA provides leave to employees who have a serious medical condition that incapacitates them for work. Employees can also claim FMLA benefits to care for a close family member who has a serious medical condition. The employee cannot make an FMLA claim if the medical condition is not serious enough, and you can require that the patient provide medical certification of the condition’s severity within a certain time frame.

A serious personal situation that is not medical in nature also does not qualify for FMLA benefits. However, an employee who has recently given birth or adopted a child can make a valid FMLA claim to take time off for the child’s benefit. Employees can only use FMLA leave to care for spouses, children and parents. Other close family members, such as siblings or in-laws, do not qualify.

Applicability to employers

Not all private-sector employers are subject to the FMLA. If yours is a small business employing fewer than 50 people, the law does not require you to provide FMLA benefits. This is true even if the employee’s situation would otherwise qualify.