When Congress passed theand guaranteed eligible employees up to 12 weeks unpaid leave to deal with serious health conditions, it never intended to punish employers that already provided generous paid time off.
That’s why the law says that employers can run out the FMLA clock by counting paid time off against the 12-week entitlement.
Smart employers make sure that employees understand that’s how it works. That way, employees won’t run out of leave and lose their jobs because they didn’t realize the clock was ticking.
Recent case: When Joanne McCalla’s son developed cancer, she asked forto care for him and support his efforts to fight the disease. She was approved for the leave and informed that her paid time off—like sick leave and vacation time—would count against her 12-week FMLA entitlement. The company also explained the process in the employee handbook.
McCalla’s employer notified her when her leave had expired, and asked her to return to work. She refused and was terminated.
That’s when she sued, alleging she had been terminated while still onbecause she didn’t realize her paid time counted against the leave.
The court rejected her claim, reasoning that the employer had told her how it was applying her leave both before she applied and when the leave was approved. (McCalla v. Avmed, No. 11-60007, SD FL, 2011)