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How can employers determine the 12-month period for FMLA?

Louisiana workers who would like to take time off based on the Family and Medical Leave Act can do so if they are covered under the law. An issue that might come up, however, is how the employer will determine the 12-month period under which the employee can have the time off. Employees have the right to use FMLA for job-protected - though unpaid - leave for family or medical reasons. It is essential that employers and employees are aware of the different ways to establish the 12-month period in which the employee will be using FMLA.

There are four different alternatives that the employer will be able to apply. First, the employer can use the calendar year. This covers the 12 months from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. The employer can also use any fixed 12-months. This is a 12-month period from one date to another. It might be the fiscal year; it might be the date at which the employee began working.

The employer can use the 12-month period measured forward. This begins on the first date that the employee takes time off based on FMLA. The next 12-month period would start the first time the employee takes FMLA leave after the prior 12-month period was completed. An example would be a worker whose FMLA begins in Dec. 1 making the 12-month period last from Dec. 1, 2017 to Nov. 30, 2018.

Finally, there is the rolling 12-month period measured backward. The date will be calculated back from the date the employee uses FMLA. When the employee uses FMLA, the amount of time they have left would be whatever is left of what was not used. An example would be if the employee takes two weeks leave on Dec. 1 and the employer checks to see whether time off was taken in the prior 12 months to Dec. 2. If there was none taken, the employee will have 10 weeks left over and can use them as he or she sees fit.

The employer can pick one of the four and it must be used for all employees unless it is an employer that operates in more than one state and there are specific rules for FMLA. Employers who are agreeable to employees having FMLA and adhere to the laws might still face allegations of wrongdoing or violations. If there is a problem with FMLA and the employment regulations have been adhered to, the employer should protect itself with an employment law firm that has their interests at the forefront.

Source: dol.gov, "Fact Sheet #28H: 12-month period under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)," accessed on Nov. 22, 2017

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