The Family and Medical Leave Act Handbook

An overview and resource handbook about the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) for employers and
their HR professionals

Part 2:

Employee rights and obligations

Employee rights

During FMLA leave, employees have the right to maintain their health coverage under any group health plan. Additionally, employees must not lose any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of their FMLA leave.

Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees must be returned to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits and other employment terms.

Employees cannot waive, nor may employers induce employees to waive, their prospective rights under the FMLA. They can file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor or file a lawsuit for FMLA violations. However, this does not prevent the settlement or release of FMLA claims based on past employer conduct.

Employee obligations

The following employee obligations or responsibilities under the FMLA can help you manage workflow and productivity. Employees must:

  • plan their leave in advance for the arrival of a child or foreseeable treatment of a serious health condition;
  • pay their share of insurance premiums within a 30-day grace period during an FMLA leave;
  • schedule treatment of a serious health condition to avoid undue disruption of your business with the approval of the health care provider;
  • notify you verbally or in writing at least 30 days before a foreseeable leave for the planned medical treatment for a serious health condition (including military caregiver leave) or the birth or placement of a child (If you uniformly enforce this notice and it isn’t provided, you may delay or deny the FMLA leave until 30 days after the date you were notified);
  • provide notice "as is reasonable and practicable" of the foreseeable need for active duty leave under the FMLA;
  • provide only one notice of the need for leave, even when the leave will be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule;
  • alert you as soon as possible to updates, changes or extensions of the dates of a scheduled leave;
  • provide timely and complete medical certification of a serious health condition, either their own or a family member's;
  • supply periodic reports, if you request them, about his or her status and return to work intent; and
  • provide certification of his or her fitness for duty upon return to work, if you require it.