If you need to use the Family and Medical Leave Act to take time off from work to deal with family health issues or other problems, your employer may ask that they have at least some notice. They may need to fill a role for a few months until you return or figure out how to take care of your responsibilities while you’re gone.
Your employer doesn’t specifically need to be notified that you want to take leave under the FMLA to do so. They do need to know enough about the situation to understand that you need it. For example, if they know your spouse is in the hospital with cancer treatment and you already exhausted your paid time off, they should know that FMLA leave would be the next measure to take.
Once you or your employer realize the need for FMLA leave, you should receive the paperwork and notices set by law. While on leave, you should receive health insurance coverage, and when you return, you should get your job back.
Your employer can require notice, but not too much
It’s reasonable for your employer to ask for some notice, but only as much as the law allows. Some employees may not be able to give advance notice because of the circumstances. In those cases, the FMLA emergency guidelines may be in place.
If you will need time off in the future, however, the FMLA does ask that you give 30 days’ notice whenever you can. Your employer can’t deny the time off if you can’t give a full 30 days because it would force you to postpone a surgery, for example, but if you know that you’re scheduling one for the future, you should try to give 30 days of advanced notice.
Fired when you needed to take leave? You may have options
If you were fired for missing work when you should have been protected under the FMLA, you may have options for getting your job back or getting compensated. Employers can’t be unreasonable in emergencies or circumstances necessitating FMLA leave. If they are, then they can face legal challenges.