Frequently Asked Questions About the FMLA Part III: Requesting an FMLA Leave

Q. How do I request an FMLA leave?

A. Under the Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), you have to provide your employer at least enough information that it is aware you need time off for a reason that is covered by the FMLA. You also need to indicate when you expect to need the time off, and how much time off you expect you will need.

Your employer can require you to follow a specific procedure after you request an FMLA leave, such as having you or your doctor fill out a particular form.

Q. How much advance notice do I need to give my employer before I start my FMLA leave?

A. When practical, you are required to give your employer at least 30 day notice before you take an FMLA leave. For example, you ordinarily must give your employer at least 30 days’ notice if you expect to take time off for childbirth, the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, or for a scheduled medical treatment.

However, sometimes it is impossible or impractical to give 30 days’ notice before you need to take an FMLA leave. When that is the case, you only have to give as much notice as is reasonable under the circumstances. For example, if you have an unexpected medical emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke, then you might not be required to give your employer any notice before you begin your FMLA leave. However, you still have to tell your employer that you need time off as soon as it is feasible for you to do so.

Q. Do I need a doctor’s note or a medical certification to take an FMLA leave?

Doctor writing note for FMLA leave.jpgA. Only if your employer requests it. Your employer has the right to request a medical certification supporting your request for time off under the FMLA. If your employer makes such a request, then you have to provide the certification within 15 calendar days, unless it is not practical to do so under the circumstances.

Q. Can my employer request a second medical opinion?

A. Yes. If your employer has reason to doubt your doctor’s medical certification, it can send you for a second opinion. Your employer has to pay for this second opinion.

Last month, we answered Frequently Asked Questions about FMLA Basics, and How to Request an FMLA Leave. Next week, we will answer Frequently Asked Questions about Reinstatement and Remedies under the FMLA.


If you have any other questions about requesting an FMLA leave, or your other employment law rights in New Jersey or New York, please let us know. Our telephone number is (973) 744-4000, or you can contact us online.

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