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FMLA Notice Requirements - Employer

If you're an employer, you know that your employees may need time off. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. This leave can be used for various purposes, such as for the birth and care of a newborn child, the placement with the employee of an adopted or foster child, or the employee's own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a family member.

While the FMLA grants rights to eligible employees, it also places important responsibilities on employers. As an employer, you must provide several kinds of notice to employees concerning their rights and obligations under the FMLA. These employer notice requirements ensure that employees can effectively exercise their FMLA rights. Understanding these notice requirements is vital for employers who want to comply with the law.

Request for Leave

FMLA leave generally starts with an employee's request for time off. The leave request can be verbal or written. Employees should provide 30 days advance notice of the need for such leave and include the amount of leave needed. However, the law recognizes that advance notice is not always possible because of the nature of medical emergencies.

The employee does not have to mention the federal law when making the request. Recognizing FMLA leave entitlement is the employer's responsibility. Your employee simply has to provide you with enough information to put you on notice of the need for time off. You will then determine if the work absence is FMLA leave.

As a result, employee notice requirements under the FMLA can have a subtle aspect, posing a challenge for employers. For example, a worker with several absences because of chronic illness or an ailment such as back pain can qualify for leave under federal law. In such an instance, if you fail to advise the employee that they can take FMLA leave for the medical condition, you could face liability. FMLA leave can be intermittent leave, meaning it can be taken in short breaks of time.

Employers must reinstate employees to their jobs once the leave has ended. Employers must give workers the same job or its equivalent with the same pay and benefits, including health insurance.

General Notice

Like other federal employment laws, the FMLA says covered employers must post a notice. The notice explains the FMLA and instructs employees on how to file a claim if they believe their rights have been violated. The notice must also contain the following:

  • The definition of a serious health condition
  • Details on military leave entitlements, including a qualifying exigency
  • Employer and employee responsibilities under the FMLA

This notice must appear in a location that is clearly visible to employees and applicants.

In addition, this notice must also appear in any written guide or manual that explains employee benefits and leave, such as an employee handbook. If you don't distribute such a document, you must provide this notice upon hiring a new employee.

Employers who fail to provide the required FMLA notice are subject to a civil penalty.

Eligibility Notice

When an employee notifies their employer of their intention to take leave, or the employer finds out that an employee's leave qualifies for FMLA, the employer must inform the employee of their eligibility within five business days using an Eligibility Notice. If you decide the employee can't take FMLA leave, you must give a reason.

Rights and Responsibilities Notice

Upon notifying an employee of their eligibility for FMLA leave, employers must also notify the employee of the expectations and duties associated with the leave. This Rights and Responsibilities Notice should include, among other things, whether or not the employee must provide medical certification for the FMLA-qualifying reason for the leave, the employee's right to use paid leave time for the FMLA leave, and the 12-month period that will be used to calculate the leave.

Designation Notice

Once an employer learns that an employee's leave is for an FMLA-qualifying reason, they must notify the employee of the decision to designate the leave as FMLA leave within five business days, absent extenuating circumstances. In addition, this notification should also list:

  • Whether the employer will elect to substitute paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave
  • Whether the employee must provide fitness-for-duty certification
  • The amount of time that will be counted against the employee's FMLA leave allowance


It's important to follow the deadlines for each notice. Federal regulators view a lack of timeliness as an attempt to interfere with a worker's right to FMLA leave.


The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigates and enforces FMLA notices complaints. If an employer fails to follow the notice requirements, including the deadlines, it's often seen as retaliation or interference with a worker's right to take FMLA leave. The FMLA forbids both and can lead to employer sanctions.

Confirm Your FMLA Choices With an Employment Law Attorney

Federal law protects workers who need family or medical leave, and as an employer you must adhere to the FMLA. At the same time, you want to make sure you're not being taken advantage of, so you might want to speak with an employment law attorney. An attorney can explain employee eligibility, health benefits, and FMLA-protected leave benefits.  Get matched with an employment law attorney today.

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