This weekend is the official “end of summer”. Lots of people will be using the long weekend to take a last road trip or beach vacation. Some people will be taking a staycation and some people will have to work. Other people will take the long weekend as an opportunity to rest and recuperate from a serious health condition while on Family Medical Leave Act leave.
A question that I get from time to time is “does the holiday count toward my FMLA leave limit?” Remember that eligible employees are allowed to take 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave in order to take care of their own serious health condition, the serious health condition of an eligible family member, and for maternity leave among other reasons.
What happens when a workplace wide holiday coincides with the employee’s FMLA leave? Do the holiday days count toward the 12 weeks of leave? The answer depends on how many days the employee worked during the workweek in which the holiday occurs.
If the holiday occurs during a week when the employee takes off the whole week as FMLA leave then the holiday DOES count toward their 12 week total. For example, this year Labor Day is on Monday, August 1st. If an employee had FMLA leave that started on July 23rd and ended August 8th the Labor Day holiday would count toward the 12 week leave allotment. This is because the employee would be out on leave for the entire week of 8/1 to 8/5.
If, however, the employee does not take the whole week as FMLA leave time the holiday DOES NOT count toward their 12 weeks of FMLA leave. Tweaking the previous example slightly, if the employee was scheduled to come back to work on August 4th instead of the 8th then the holiday would not count as FMLA leave time. This is because the employee would not have taken off the entire week of 8/1. They would have worked the 4th and 5th (Thursday and Friday) of that week. Only Tuesday the 2nd and Wednesday the 3rd would count as FMLA time.
A caveat to all of this is if the holiday is not a workplace wide holiday and the employee would have been working that day had they not been on FMLA, then the holiday DOES count as FMLA leave time.
The other situation where time off on FMLA does not count toward FMLA leave time is if the entire workplace is shut down for a week or more. For instance if a factory completely shut down for a week for repairs while an employee is on leave the time DOES NOT count toward that employee’s FMLA leave time.
The FMLA can be very technical and violations can happen accidentally. Fortunately for employees, a particular intent to deprive an employee of their FMLA leave is not required for a violation of the law. Even if an employer makes an honest mistake calculating the amount of leave an employee can take it can still be a violation if that mistake results in harm to the employee. If your employer is telling you that you are about to exhaust your FMLA leave time double check to make sure they have been calculating your leave correctly.
If you are in Georgia and think that your employer failed to correctly calculate your FMLA leave contact Atlanta employment law attorney Benjamin Kandy. As always, this page does not constitute legal advice. This page does not create an attorney-client relationship between attorney Benjamin Kandy and the reader. Contact a lawyer for advice about your particular situation.