Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 made available to Federal employees an entitlement to a total of 12 weeks (480 hours) of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for:

  • (1) the care of the employee's spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition;

  • (2) a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their position;

  • (3) birth of son or daughter and care of the new born; and/or

  • (4) placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.
  • The 12 administrative workweeks will be made available for a full-time or part-time employee in direct proportion to the number of hours in the employee's regularly scheduled administrative workweek. (Available paid leave may be substituted as appropriate for leave without pay. If employees are substituting sick leave in place of LWOP, the sick leave usage must fall under sick leave provisions as addressed under 5 CFR 630.401) Upon returning from leave, employees are entitled to their position or a position equivalent to that which the employee encumbered when the FMLA leave began. (Additional details, to include exceptions are found in (5 CFR 630.1208)). Certain conditions may require employees to use the 12 weeks of FMLA intermittently. The 12-month period referred to above begins on the date an employee first takes FMLA leave and continues for 12 months. An employee is not entitled to 12 additional workweeks of unpaid leave until the previous 12-month period ends and an event or situation occurs that entitles the employee to another period of FMLA leave. (This may include a continuation of a previous event or situation.)

    a. An employee must invoke entitlement to FMLA leave and may not usually invoke the entitlement retroactively. If the employee and the employee's personal representative are physically or mentally incapable of invoking the entitlement during the entire period of absence from work for an FMLA-qualifying purpose, the employee may retroactively invoke entitlement within 2 workdays after returning to work.

    b. 5 CFR 630.1208(l) states that if an employee does not comply with the notification and medical certification requirements of 5 CFR 630.1206 and 5 CFR 630.1207(b), the employee is not entitled to FMLA leave.

    c. Holidays that occur during the period in which an employee is on family and medical leave are not counted toward the 12-week entitlement. (5 CFR 630.1203(e))

    d. An organization may not put an employee on family and medical leave and may not subtract leave from the FMLA entitlement unless the organization has obtained confirmation of the employee's intent to invoke entitlement to FMLA leave. (5 CFR 630.1203(h))

    e. At its own expense, an organization may require subsequent medical recertification on a periodic basis, but no more than once every 30 calendar days, for leave taken for purposes relating to pregnancy, chronic conditions, or long-term conditions. (5 CFR 630.1207(j)) Please review this section as it provides specific information concerning recertification.

    Note, the 12 workweeks of unpaid leave under the FMLA are in addition to any accrued or accumulated annual leave, sick leave, other paid leave, or compensatory time off available to employees.

    Certification: An employee's request for FMLA leave to care for a sick family member, or for the employee's own serious health condition, must be supported by medical certification issued by a health care provider of the employee or the employee's ill family member. 5 CFR 630.1207(h) requires employees to provide medical certification of a serious health condition no later than 15 calendar days after the date requested. If employees are unable to provide requested medical documentation and they have made good faith efforts to comply, medical documentation must be provided as soon as practicable under the circumstances involved, but no later than 30 days after the date requested. An employee may not retroactively invoke his or her entitlement to FMLA leave except where the employee and his/her personal representative are physically or mentally incapable of invoking entitlement during the entire period of absence from work for an FMLA-qualifying purpose. Employees may then retroactively invoke entitlement within 2 workdays after returning to work. Incapacity must be documented by written medical certification from a health care provider and the employee must provide acceptable documentation of why his/her representative was unable to contact the agency on the employee's behalf (5 CFR 630.1203(b)).

    Supervisors or employees interested in this special leave provision should contact their servicing Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) for further guidance.

    Exclusions: Employees serving under intermittent appointments or temporary appointments with a time limitation of one year or less, employees with less than 12 months of Federal service, and other individuals excluded under 5 CFR 630.1201(b) are not eligible for FMLA leave.

    Content last reviewed: 7/28/2009-JPF

    Return to: PERMISS Homepage | Management-Employee Relations Program

    This page was last revised: 1/24/2011