FMLA is a federal law sponsored by labor Unions. It protects certain workers from discipline when using time away from work to care for their own serious medical condition, or that of an immediate family member. FMLA is associated with EAP, the difference being that FMLA is a law protecting Members and EAP is a program for assisting Members who are experiencing difficult times. An EAP coordinator can assist you with applying for FMLA.

Here’s the most important thing to know about FMLA.

If you have a dependability problem which is legitimately caused by your own serious medical condition (or a family member), then request FMLA.

It really comes down to just that.

Please do not make the mistake of unnecessarily subjecting yourself to company discipline for dependability. FMLA requires specific things. For example, a worker must have worked 1250 or more hours in the preceding twelve month period. FMLA also has some loopholes, which United Airlines attempts to abuse. For example, your doctor must insert language into your paper work protecting your regular days off from counting towards FMLA.

Sound complicated?

It can be. A qualified EAP will assist you with understanding FMLA, and will even coordinate with your health care provider. Don’t allow United Airlines, or US Airways, or any company to abuse you. Instead, call the EAP Main Number for information and help.

(650) 876-3625 Main Office

Bryan Hutchinson, District 141 Director of EAP
(303) 348-4080

Basic facts about the Family Medical Leave Act


  • Have worked for the same company for at least 12 months (does not need to be consecutive), and you
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past year, and you
  • Work for a company with at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles of your work site.


  • Take a total of 12 weeks off work without pay.
  • Keep any health insurance coverage you had during the time you are off.
  • Get your old job back, or an equivalent position with equal pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment following FMLA leave.


You must give notice of the need for leave from your job:

  • Employees do not have to specifically request “FMLA Leave” or even mention FMLA. Employees must simply give enough information or put the employer on notice that the reason the employee is requesting leave may be FMLA qualifying.
  • Employers can ask employees to provide “written notice” of need for leave, but employers cannot deny FMLA leave if the employee fails to comply with a written request requirement as long as the employee has given timely verbal or other notice.
  • When the need for leave is foreseeable, employees must give 30 days notice. When the need for leave is not foreseeable, employees must give notice “as soon as practicable,” but usually within one or two days of the need for leave arising.

Provide Certification of the Medical Need for Leave

The FMLA allows employers to require employees to provide medical certification of the need for leave for the employee’s own serious health condition or for a family member’s serious health condition. Employers may not seek more information from the employee in the medical certification than what is allowed in the Department of Labor’s model form. Employers cannot require a diagnosis and should not require employees to sign an authorization allowing the release of all medical information to the employer. An employer’s doctor may contact an employee’s doctor only for the clarification of information.

Should an employer have questions regarding an employee’s medical certification, the employer may require the employee to receive a second and/or third medical opinion. An employer cannot require an employee who has provided a certification of a need for intermittent leave to provide a new certification each time the employee uses leave. An employer generally should not request recertification when an employee is using leave more often than every 30 days.

Comply with Fitness-for-Duty Certification Requirements

An employer may require employees scheduled to return from FMLA leave to certify that they are medically fit for duty. A fitness-for-duty examination or certification must be job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Source: A Reference Guide To the Family and Medical Leave Act, IAM Women’s Department.

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