FMLA Calendar year

I will preface this question by saying I truly appreciate how thoughtful and considerate everyone is in responding to my questions. This is not the case on another HR forum, so I do appreciate the respect that is shown for others on this forum.

Okay, here goes~ I have an employee who went out on maternity leave on 10/20/09 and did not return until 1/11/2010. Her baby was born with a medical condition and she has missed quite a bit of time (but still within policy guidelines for time off). She is now getting into a position where she is needing more time and is out of paid time off. Unpaid time off is against company policy and is subject to disciplinary action. My silly question is this; does her FMLA year begin again on 10/20/10 or not until 1/11/11? I want to go with the October date, but am doubting that for some reason.

Thanks, in advance, for you expertise!


  • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • It depends. The law allows for several methods, but you much choose one and stick to it. You can have calendar year periods, or your FMLA can use look forward or backward rolling year methods. You just need to be consistant.

    If you had a calendar year basis, her time would have started again on 1/1.

    If you look forward you can start her 12 weeks on 10/20/09. Once used, she will not be eligible again until 10/20/10.

    If you look backward you look at today's date (request date) and look back for the past year. Take the total allowed (12 weeks) and deduct any time already used.

    The 2nd and 3rd methods are essentially the same. I would recommend either of them over the 1st method so you don't run into someone taking 24 weeks in a row (12 weeks at the end of 09 then 12 more at the beginning of 10).

    The best way to avoid trouble is to look historically at your organization. Make sure you stick with whatever method you used in the past. If it is the calendar year method, you can change in the future, but not for this situation. To change it you will have to make a formal policy change and communicate it clearly to your employees BEFORE you put it into action.

    Hope this helps.

  • Nae,

    I will stick with what I have been doing which means she will be eligible to begin a new FMLA year next month.

    Thanks for your help.
  • Don't you just love responses that start out with "It depends."
    But as always -- Nae is correct.
    Just be careful as you are setting the standard for your company and be sure to try and think about all of the possibilities that could come up with your best employees and your worst and be prepared to treat them all the same when he comes to granting FMLA.
    Does your FMLA policy currently state which method will be use to count the time off?
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