To apply for time off under the Family Medical Leave Act, an employee must submit the request to his employer at least 30 days in advance or as soon as possible in the case of an emergency. Employers may require a physician's certification that the leave is medically necessary.
The FMLA applies only to employers and employees who meet certain conditions. Employers are required to provide unpaid leave under the FMLA only if the company employs at least 50 people within 75 miles of the corporate address. Employees are eligible for FMLA leave only if they have been with the same company for at least 12 months and if they have worked at least 1,250 hours during that year.
The FMLA grants employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within any 12-month period. FMLA leave is offered to employees who have experienced the birth or adoption of a child and employees who need to care for a spouse, child or parent who is seriously ill. Employees may also use FMLA leave if their health prevents them from performing their jobs. Employers can require employees to take paid leave before tapping into their FMLA allowance, although the paid leave does count against the 12 weeks guaranteed by the FMLA.