How to Say it – Asking for FMLA Time Off
Use this script to request time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons while protecting employment and with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for specific situations or 26 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period for other specific situations. (You can learn more about eligibility here: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/legacy/files/employeeguide.pdf)
- Familiarize yourself with the law and make sure you are an eligible employee, your employer is a covered employer, and the situation you are requesting FMLA leave for is a covered condition. You must give your employer advance notice (generally 30 days in advance) if possible. Also educate yourself about what your company’s policies say about taking a leave of absence (if possible).
Make the Ask:[Boss name], I need to submit a request for time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Who do I need to talk to about getting the process started? [You can give the specific reason for requesting FMLA leave. For example: to care for your spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition. You don’t have to ask for FMLA by name, but you do have to provide enough information for your employer to understand that you have a condition that qualifies for FMLA leave. If you are requesting time off for your own medical condition, you do not have to tell your employer your diagnosis.]
What documentation do you need from me to support my request?[It’s the employer’s responsibility to know what protections and rights their employees have.]
How It Might Sound:
You: Karen, I need to submit a request for time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. My husband is having surgery next month and I’m going to need three weeks off to take care of him. The surgery is scheduled for October 5, and I’d expect to be back by October 27. Do I talk to you — or to HR — about getting the process started?
Boss: I can pull the paperwork for you.
You: What documentation do you need from me to support the request?
Boss: I’ll need a letter from your husband’s doctor. That should do it.
You: I can get that for you. Thanks.