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Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

What If I Negotiate For Less Than 12 Weeks Off Under The FMLA, But Find I Need More Time?

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If you request and are approved for less than 12 weeks of leave, but realize at some point that you are going to need more time, you have a right to additional leave up to a total of 12 weeks. However, you cannot simply take additional time.  Doing so will jeopardize the protections under the law and will release an employer from any further obligation, including the obligation to maintain an employee's health insurance. 

  • If this situation arises, it is advisable to go back to the employer with a request for extended leave. 
  • Generally, an employee in this scenario is required to provide at least two days notice.

If you do request additional leave:

  • Ask that your employer put approval for the additional leave in writing.
  • Be sure to keep copies of all correspondence and/or make detailed notes of any conversations concerning the additional leave.  

NOTE: If you need more time off than the 12 weeks allowed under the FMLA, you may be able to request the time as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The courts have determined that the request for additional time must include a cut off. It cannot be open ended.


  • 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.
  • Also keep in mind that 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 state law or as an accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

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