Since 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act has required employers of 50 or more employees to offer time off in certain cases affecting the medical status of the employee or a family member. To get more specific, qualifying employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period in cases of


  • Birth
  • Adoption
  • Caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
  • The employee’s own serious health condition

As you might imagine, matters of healthcare raise not only significant paperwork requirements and grey-area worries, but privacy and compliance issues. This is an area where employers need to proceed with a lot of caution.

The following do’s and don’ts give you a flavor of the topics you want to be careful with.


  • Ask appropriate questions about the reason for the employee’s absence.
  • Provide employee with the appropriate forms.
  • Recognize that the requested time off, whether paid or unpaid, can be counted as an FMLA absence and promptly inform the employee.
  • Track FMLA time and when requested, inform the employee of the number of hours used and the number remaining.


  • Interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of (or attempts to exercise) any rights provided by the FMLA.
  • Discourage an employee from using FMLA leave or manipulate circumstances related to eligibility.
  • Discharge or in any other way discriminate against a person for opposing or complaining about any unlawful practice under the Act.
  • Consider the use of FMLA as a negative factor in employment actions such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary actions or count FMLA leave under “no fault” attendance policies.
  • Encourage employees to waive or induce employees to waive their prospective rights under FMLA.

That’s the tip of the FMLA iceberg, however.

We advise clients every day on how best to ensure their own compliance and follow the letter of the Act when it comes to employee leave. For every situation, the considerations vary. Our supervisor’s checklist brings order to the FMLA process. And, of course, we’re right here to guide you through the process.