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How to request Family and Medical Leave Act leave

Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you may be able to take time away from work to deal with a major medical problem that's affecting you or an immediate family member.

However, even if you qualify for FMLA, there are steps you must take in order to request time off. Here's what you should do:

  • Learn more about your eligibility: For example, other employees in your company may be eligible for FMLA, but that doesn't mean it holds true for you. A common instance is someone asking for FMLA when the company hasn't employed them for more than 12 months.
  • Give notice: It's not always possible to give advanced notice, but you should do your best to do so. When possible, give a minimum of 30 days' notice before you want to start taking FMLA leave.
  • Provide more information: Your employer can only ask for so much information about your medical situation, so it's up to you to provide enough information to show that you're eligible for FMLA leave.
  • Wait for a response: Once you make an FMLA request, your employer has five days to respond. Hold them to this if they're slacking on getting back to you.

It's your hope that you never have to take FMLA leave, but this could be necessary at some point. Maybe you need it to care for a newborn child. Maybe you need it because of treatment for a serious illness, such as cancer.

If your employer denies your FMLA request, learn more about their reasoning and then take the necessary steps in filing an appeal. You have legal rights, and it's a must to protect them during this difficult time of your life.

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