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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Facts and Information

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees are entitled (under specific circumstances) to a total of up to 12 work weeks (480 hours) of unpaid leave during any 12-month period.  This entitlement applies to all employees who have completed at least 12 months of employment.  The specific circumstances where this unpaid leave is granted are:

  • The birth of a son or daughter and the care of this child;

  • The placement of a son or daughter with you for adoption or foster care;

  • The care of your spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition; or

  • Your own serious health condition that makes you unable to perform the essential functions of your position.

Leave granted under the FMLA is not the same as leave without pay (LWOP).  You have a positive entitlement to use FMLA if you have established eligibility for doing so.  FMLA leave is in addition to your accrued annual and sick leave, LWOP, donated leave, credit hours, and compensatory time off.  If you are using paid leave while under the provisions of FMLA, your hours will all be deducted from the 12 weeks FMLA you're allowed.  If you invoke and meet the requirements for FMLA leave after using other forms of leave, you have the potential for up to another 12 weeks of absence.

Under certain conditions, you may use the 12 weeks of FMLA leave intermittently.  You may choose to substitute annual leave and/or sick leave for FMLA leave, consistent with the requirements of law and regulation.  (The amount of sick leave that can be used to care for a family member is limited.  Click here for more information about this limitation.)

If you take FMLA leave, you are entitled to maintain health benefits coverage.  You may pay the employee share of the premiums on a current basis or pay when you return to work.

When you return from FMLA leave, you have the right to be returned to the same position or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, status, and other employment terms and conditions.

You are required to provide notice of your intent to take FMLA leave no less than 30 days before the leave is to begin or, in an emergency, as soon as practicable.  In order to do so, you must complete Form OF-71, Application of Family and Medical Leave, or submission through the Leave Module of WebTA.  NIST cannot put you on FMLA leave or subtract leave from your entitlement to FMLA leave until you have given confirmation of your intent to invoke your entitlement.

Your supervisor may require that you supply written medical certification from a health care provider.  If so, you must provide acceptable medical certification, signed by the health care provider, no later than 15 calendar days of your supervisor's request.  If you cannot do so despite diligent and good faith efforts, you must provide it within a reasonable time under the circumstances, but no later than 30 calendar days after the day of your supervisor's request.