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- Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

Understanding the 12-Month Leave Year

The FMLA allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for up to a total of 12 workweeks in any 12 months for certain family and medical reasons and up to 26 workweeks in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

Employers may choose one of four methods for determining the 12-month period in which the 12 workweeks of leave entitlement occurs:

  1. The calendar year

  2. Any fixed 12-month "leave year"

  3. The 12-month period measured forward from the date any employee's first FMLA leave begins

  4. A "rolling" 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave

Employers are permitted to choose any one of the four alternatives provided the alternative chosen is applied consistently and uniformly to all employees. An employer wishing to change to another alternative is required to give at least 60 days notice to all employees, and the transition must take place in such a way that the employees retain the full benefit of 12 weeks of leave under whichever method affords the greatest benefit to the employee. Under no circumstances may a new method be implemented in order to avoid the FMLA's leave requirements.

Continue to Intermittent Leave or Reduced Leave Schedule or Return to the Employee Rights and Responsibilities Menu.