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I have been approved for FMLA protection but might require more time then allowed. What can I do if this happens?

Tuesday May 29, 2012
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Dear Nancy,

I was approved for FMLA protection that is limited by my employer. On the form I submitted for approval, one of the questions was how often and how long I usually need off work due to my condition, which is ulcerative colitis. I stated two days twice a year. They approved four days a year guaranteed FMLA protection. Should I have a flare-up, I might need 12 weeks to recover. What can I do?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Shasha,

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that allows you up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific reasons, one of which is when you need time off for a serious medical condition. Your employer has indicated you are guaranteed four days a year for this condition. It is assumed that the employer is calculating the four days as intermittent leave, meaning the time is given in blocks of time for the same qualifying condition.

If, however, you suffer a flare-up and need more time, that request would have to be done pursuant to the FMLA requirements. For example, you may need to submit a medical certificate that supports the need for more time off for this condition.

Keep in mind also, your condition may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act and its amendments. So your time off from work may be viewed differently (e.g., as a reasonable accommodation), which perhaps would be even more favorable for you.

You can read about these two federal laws and their requirements by going to their respective websites: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/ and http://www.ada.gov. Should a flare-up take place, seeking input from a nurse attorney or attorney who works with employees would be a good idea so you can be helped through the sometimes complex maze of one or both of these laws.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.