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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) -- Frequently Asked Questions

What If I Need More Than 12 Weeks Off Of Work?

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If you need more time off than permitted under the FMLA:

Check your state law

Your state law may be more generous than the FMLA and provide longer than 12 weeks of leave. If your state law gives you a greater benefit than the federal FMLA, your state law governs. If your state law allows less time off than the FMLA, the FMLA would govern.

If you qualify for leave under both the FMLA and state law, while you would be entitled to the greater benefit of the two, any leave you take will apply to the provisions of both laws. For example, if you were qualified for 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA and 16 weeks of leave under state law, you may take up to the 16 weeks. However, the first 12 weeks of leave would also exhaust your FMLA leave. You would not be entitled to 12 weeks plus 16 weeks leave. In this scenario, if your state law does not require your employer to maintain your health benefits, the requirement to do so would end at 12 weeks, when your FMLA benefits cease. If you took the additional 4 weeks leave provided by state law, your health benefits could end subject to COBRA regulations, or you could attempt to negotiate a continuation of your benefits.

Consider a Job Accommodation

It may be possible to request additional unpaid leave as a job accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Before you consider this option, think about whether the time you need is full time, or whether you could work part time or from home. If either of these scenarios are possible, you may receive some portion of your pay as well as the benefits that you would otherwise not receive during your FMLA leave.


  • Be careful requesting a job accommodation in which you work less than full time -- you may compromise your eligibility for benefits, including both health insurance and disability benefits.
  • Your employer does not have an obligation to rehire you if you stay away from work beyond the period protected by law, whether under the FMLA or as an accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • Taking more than the 12 weeks of leave allowed by the FMLA can raise complicated benefits questions. If you have doubts about your options, speak with a health finance counselor or an attorney.

If you're envisioning a long additional period of leave, now may be the time to consider going on disability.

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