The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law designed to allow workers to take time away from their jobs for specific and important parental and health reasons without fear of losing their positions or experiencing retaliation. If you or your spouse has recently given birth to or adopted a baby, or if you have a debilitating illness or injury and need to take time off of work to recover, you may be eligible to take FMLA leave.
However, it is important that you approach your employer in the right ways and file certain documents in order to ensure that you are protected under federal and state employment law if you decide to take FMLA leave. If you want to take advantage of this legal protection, you cannot simply fail to show up to work and assume that your job will be waiting for you when you choose to return.
If you know that you will soon become a new parent or that a medical treatment will leave you unable to work for an extended period of time, you will generally be required to give your employer 30 days notice before you take FMLA leave. In some cases, an emergency medical situation will not leave you the capacity for 30 days notice. In these cases, you must notify your employer as soon as you possibly can.
In addition, you will likely need to provide your employer with some information related to your medical situation in order to qualify for FMLA leave. You are absolutely entitled to your privacy and will not need to give details related to diagnosis. However, you will likely need to provide some information in order for your employer to understand that your request for leave is legitimate. If you have questions about eligibility, enforcement or evidence relating to your condition, please contact an experienced employment law attorney.
Source: Findlaw Law & Daily Life, “Legal How-To: Requesting FMLA Leave From Your Employer,” Brett Snider, Aug. 26, 2014