Can you get an extension on Family and Medical Leave Act unpaid leave?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows workers to take as many as 12 weeks of unpaid leave over a 12-month period to care for a newborn or a sick child, spouse, or parent. Workers can also use FMLA benefits to recuperate from their own serious medical condition without fear of losing their job and health insurance benefits, if any.

Designated non-work days under the FMLA can be taken intermittently (e.g., every second Friday for chemotherapy) or in larger blocks of time. The law applies only to companies with 50 or more employees, however, and at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. There is no formal provision in the FMLA for extended leave beyond 12 weeks.

However, it is possible for workers to negotiate an extension on a case-by-case basis by discussing their situation with their employer and requesting additional unpaid leave during a family or medical crisis. Workers with high job performance and productivity ratings and/or badly needed skill sets will have an edge when convincing employers to make concessions.

In addition, some states also have family and medical leave laws and could, perhaps, provide greater rights than the FMLA. However, if your leave qualifies under both FMLA and state statutes, it runs concurrently. In other words, state and federal (FMLA) coverage cannot be piggybacked.

We’re collecting feedback on FAQs. Please complete this quick survey to help with our continual improvements.