More on the Family and Medical Leave Act: How Much Time Do I Have to Use My FMLA Leave?

Previously, I gave a brief overview of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), what it does, and to whom it applies. If you are considering using FMLA leave, you might be wondering if you have to use all 12 weeks provided by the FMLA consecutively, or you might wonder in what time period you have to use your leave.

FMLA leave must be used in a 12-month period, but it does not have to be used consecutively. However the FMLA only gives protection for 12 weeks within any 12-month period. What is the 12-month period? Is it the calendar year? Fiscal year? Something else? This period can depend on your employer or on state law.

Employers can choose what the 12-month period will be for their employees, but the same period must be used for each employee taking FMLA leave. The period can be any fixed 12-month period such as a calendar year, fiscal year, or any other fixed 12 months, it can be a period that looks forward 12 months from the date you first use FMLA leave, or it can be a rolling period looking back from the present.

If you are considering using FMLA leave, you should ask your employer what 12 month period they use to calculate how much leave has been used by its employees. With this knowledge, you will be able to better plan the use of your leave.

For a detailed example of the rolling period measured backward, check out the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division Factsheet #28H.