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- Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

Timing of Employee Notice

Foreseeable Leave

An employee must provide the employer at least 30 days advance notice before FMLA leave is to begin if the need for the leave is foreseeable based on an expected birth, placement for adoption or foster care, planned medical treatment for a serious health condition of the employee or of a family member, or the planned medical treatment for a serious injury or illness of a covered servicemember.

If 30 days notice is not practicable (such as when the employee does not know approximately when the leave will need to begin, there has been a change in the circumstances requiring leave, or when there has been a medical emergency), notice must be given as soon as practicable.

Whether FMLA leave is to be taken continuously, intermittently, or on a reduced leave schedule, notice only needs to be given one time, but the employee must advise the employer as soon as practicable if dates of scheduled leave change, are extended, or were initially unknown.

If the employee does not provide at least 30 days notice for foreseeable leave, the employee must explain the reasons why such notice was not practicable if asked by the employer.

Unforeseeable Leave

When the approximate timing of the need for leave is not foreseeable, an employee must provide the employer notice as soon as practicable under the particular facts and circumstances. It generally should be practicable for the employee to provide notice of unforeseeable leave within the time required by the employer's usual and customary notice requirements applicable to such leave.

Notice may be given by the employee's spokesperson (for example, a spouse, adult family member or other responsible party) if the employee is unable to do so personally.

"As soon as practicable" means as soon as both possible and practical, taking into account all of the facts and circumstances in the individual case.

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For more information on this aspect of the FMLA, see the FMLA regulations: § 825.302 , § 825.303