What happens if FMLA is denied?

Uh oh. Is it illness season already?

Then it’s time to roll down your sleeves and take a break from work to care for yourself.

Sick woman wrapped in duvet with a pillow covering her face

Lucky for you, there are legislations kept in place to ensure you get the rest you deserve.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one of them, and it allows all eligible workers at a company to take an unpaid leave of absence.

However, if you’re unfortunate to have your FMLA denied by a terrible boss, there are certain measures you can take.

What does FMLA stand for?

FMLA is an abbreviation for Family and Medical Leave Act.

It is a Federal legislation that entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, yet job-protected, leave.

The leave is often for the purpose of caring for family members, dealing with medical or mental health issues, and so on.

IV tube connected to a person's hand

Now, if you’re wondering “how long is FMLA meant to last?”, the answer is a maximum of 12 weeks.

On rare occasions, you can bag up to 26 weeks of leave.

But that’s if you’re caring for family members with special needs or on military family leave.

Initially, you’d need to provide a diagnosis from a doctor as proof to qualify for FMLA.

But with the 2009 revision of the Act, employees only need to provide certification that they are leaving for a FMLA-protected condition.

Those conditions include:

  • Illnesses
  • Severe injuries or impairment
  • Physical or mental conditions E.g. Alzheimer’s, severe stroke, etc.
  • Inpatient care
  • Chronic conditions such as asthma, epilepsy and diabetes.
  • Treatment for substance abuse.
  • Pregnancy, Ante-natal or health conditions following the birth of a child.

What are the qualifications for FMLA?

To qualify for FMLA, you must’ve worked for your employer for at least 12 months. However, that doesn’t mean 12 months in a row.

But during that time frame, you’re expected to have provided a minimum of 1,250 hours of service.

Employees working in a collaborative workspace

Additionally, FMLA works in a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

So to qualify, you’ll need to have worked within that radius.

If you haven’t met any of these conditions, then you’ll have FMLA denied for you.

What happens if FMLA is denied?

If you get your application for FMLA denied, the next step is to visit the US Department of Labor (DOL) and submit a complaint.

The DOL is an agency that oversees FMLA. It’s responsible for resolving employee-related issues that arise when requesting for leaves from their employers.

United States Department of Labor

If you don’t have a DOL office near you, you can always reach out to them via phone call.

The numbers to call are available on the official website. Although it’s best if you send your complaint in writing. 

Once your complaint is sent in, the DOL will conduct an investigation. 

What happens if an employee does not qualify for FMLA?

If it’s discovered that your employer wasn’t the bad guy for denying you leave, the DOL will send you a notice explaining the reason for your FMLA denied application.

However, if you were unlawfully denied leave, the DOL will try to work out things between you and your employer.

Alternatively, you can choose to file a lawsuit with the help of an employment attorney.

This will prove useful especially in cases where employers retaliate against employees by demoting them or terminating their employment.

How to apply for FMLA?

Before applying for FMLA, you must give your employer 30 days notice.

That is, if you knew in advance that you’d require a leave.

Although if you were faced with an emergency, you may inform your employer immediately the emergency occurs or as soon as you can.

Your employer may request for certification to prove the authenticity of your request.

If that’s the case, you’ll need to get an FMLA form, or rather, the FMLA Medical Certification Form from your healthcare provider.

You can also get the partially filled form from the Human Resource office at your workplace.

Once your healthcare provider or HR unit releases the form into your hands, you’ll need to take it to your employer within 15 days.

Employer and employee meeting

The FMLA form should contain in detail the nature of your condition. It should include the following:

  • The contact information of your health care provider.
  • The date when your health began.
  • How long the condition is estimated to last;
  • Extensive and appropriate medical facts about the condition. E.g. details of the symptoms, hospitalization, doctors visits, etc.
  • Specifications of your type of leave. E.g. Continuous or intermittent leave. 

What happens if I use all my FMLA?

Once you exhaust your 12 weeks of leave, you’re no longer eligible for FMLA for that year.

So if you should have an emergency after those 12 weeks, your employer has the right to deny you another leave.

He also has the right to terminate your employment if you choose to remain absent from work once your leave is over.

Hopefully, this guide answers every question you have about FMLA denied requests.


Can I be fired if my FMLA is denied?

If an employee is covered by FMLA, then it is against the law of the United States of America to fire them after denial of leave.

Additionally, your employer has no right to demand any work or services from you while you are on approved FMLA leave. 

But if you refuse to resume work after your FMLA is over, your employer has the right to fire you for absenteeism.

Can you take FMLA twice in one year for different reasons?

No, you can’t take FMLA twice in one year.

Your employer may allow you to take an extra few days of leave, but getting double of the normal 12 weeks is hardly possible.

Your employer may tag it as undue hardship to his business.

The best you can get to double FMLA is going on 12 weeks leave for not just one, but multiple conditions.

Do you get full pay on FMLA?

No, you won’t get full pay on FMLA as it is an unpaid leave.

But sometimes, employees may opt to get payment for their paid leave diverted to fund their FMLA leave.

Employers may also suggest this mode of payment, although it isn’t backed up by any Federal laws.

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