Fact or Fiction: If you don't say "FMLA", you can't take FMLA leave?

January 23, 2012
By Eric B. Meyer on January 23, 2012 7:00 AM | | Comments

Thumbnail image for ffiction.pngThat's right folks. It's time for another edition of "Fact or Fiction" a/k/a "Quick Answers to Quick Questions" a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a "I don't feel like writing a long blog post". So, let's get right to today's question:

That Eddie Employee is a gamer.

While filling up at the Gas-N-Gulp on his way to work, out of nowhere, a punk teen whacked Eddie across the face with a skateboard. Youch! Jaw broken, Eddie got back into his car, drove to work, and somehow managed to stumble into HR. Spitting out blood and teeth, Eddie asked Agatha Administrator for a week off from work to go to the hospital to have surgery to fix his ugly mug and recuperate. However, as Eddie slurred and lisped out his request, he never specifically mentioned the letters "F-M-L-A".

Let's assume that Eddie meets all of the length-of-service requirements under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Can he still take leave under the FMLA, even if he never utters those magic four letters.

You betcha. According to this FMLA fact sheet, Eddie only needs to provide "sufficient information for the employer to understand that the employee needs leave for FMLA-qualifying reasons (the employee need not mention FMLA when requesting leave to meet this requirement, but may only explain why the leave is needed)."

And if the employer fails to designate Eddie's leave as FMLA-leave, guess what? Eddie still has 12 weeks of FMLA leave that he can still use going forward. Although, under certain circumstances, the employer may be able to retroactively designate Eddie's jawbreaker leave as FMLA leave.