If our company shut down and then reopened, must an employee re-start the year requirement for FMLA?

Not necessarily. To qualify for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee must have worked 1,250 hours in the year immediately preceding the start of the leave, and have worked for a year for the employer. If there was a break in service during seven years of employment, however, as long as the total time an employee worked is a year or more (and the employee has worked the requisite number of hours), this qualifies for FMLA.

Additionally, any break in service caused by a military service obligation would be excused.

As to “hours worked,” hours of service means hours actually worked by the employee. It does not mean hours paid. Paid nonworking time — such as vacations, holidays, furloughs, sick leave or other time off (paid or otherwise) — doesn’t count for purposes of calculating one’s FMLA eligibility.

Therefore, if an employee was furloughed for a lengthy period or taking the emergency family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to care for a child, that time is not considered hours worked, even though the latter is paid.

These are definitely challenging times, and if an employer has doubts or questions about the qualifications of FMLA, an attorney should be consulted.

Read more about Family and Medical Leave Eligibility Requirements in the HR Library.

Q&As