The FMLA rules for employee notices are not as stringent as those for the employer, but employees are required to give their employers reasonable notices related to their leave. When substituting paid leave, employees may be required to follow the employer’s usual and customary notice and procedural policies for that type of paid leave.
When the need for leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide at least 30 days advance notice before the FMLA leave is to begin. If 30 days notice is not practicable, notice must be given as soon as practicable (meaning both possible and practical based on the individual circumstances). If the employee fails to give the required 30 day notice, upon request by the employer the employee must explain why giving this notice was not practicable.
The notice may be verbal. It must be sufficient to make the employer aware that the employee needs FMLA-qualifying leave, and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave.
The first time an employee requests leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason the employee need not assert rights under the FMLA or even mention the FMLA. Subsequent requests for leave for the same reason must specifically reference the qualifying reason or the need for FMLA leave.
If the employee fails to give notice as required by the FMLA without reasonable excuse the employee’s leave may be delayed, but only if it is clear that the employee had actual notice of the FMLA notice requirements. This condition may be satisfied by proper posting of the general notice and distribution of the general notice either in an employee handbook or other written distribution.