Accrued vacation time counts toward FMLA eligibility

by on March 16, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Court makes one-year threshold easier for employees to meet under FMLA regulations

When calculating employee weeks for FMLA eligibility, make sure you include all accrued vacation time, regardless of whether or not the employee actually took a vacation. If you don’t, you could be in violation of FMLA.

In a recent case an employee worked for a company for 51 weeks, then left work for treatment of a serious medical condition. He applied for and was denied FMLA leave because he failed to meet the 52-week FMLA eligibility requirement. But he was put on medical leave. Shortly after the employee returned to work, the company reorganized and let him go.

He sued, claiming that his company violated FMLA regulations by denying his leave, failing to reinstate him and firing him.

The company’s argument: He only worked here for 51 weeks!

But that’s where they were wrong.

Timing of vacation ‘irrelevant’

A district court in Maine said that the employee could use accrued vacation to satisfy the FMLA eligibility requirement. The court noted FMLA regulations stating that if any employee is maintained on the payroll for any part of a week, including any paid or unpaid leave (e.g. sick days, vacation days) the week counts as a week of employment.

The court noted that FMLA regulations say that any vacation time taken counts toward the 12-month requirement.

Cite: Ruder v Maine General Medical Center, U.S. District Court, District of Maine, No. 01-CV-220-B-S., 5/10/02

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