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How to Calculate the FMLA 12-Month Period Measured Forward

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations, §825.200, define the four methods that an employer may use to establish the amount of FMLA leave an employee has used within a 12-month period under the act. One option is the 12-month period measured forward from the date an employee's first FMLA period begins, discussed in detail below.

Step 1: Determine FMLA Time Needed

The first step is to review the employee's request for leave and to determine the duration of the leave.

Step 2: Determine FMLA Time Previously Taken

Next the employer should review the employee's attendance record to determine if FMLA leave has been previously used or if this is the first FMLA leave request. If FMLA leave has been taken previously, the date that the first FMLA period began should be noted.

Step 3: Determine the Employee's 12-Month Period

The employee's 12-month FMLA period will be the date the employee's first FMLA leave absence began in each 12-month period. If this is the first FMLA leave request, the 12-month period will begin on the first date of this FMLA leave. If the employee's request for leave is more than 12 months after a previous FMLA leave, the first date of the current FMLA leave will be the beginning of the new 12-month period.

Step 4: Determine Total FMLA Time Available for This Request

If the employee has not taken any FMLA leave previously, he or she has the full 12 weeks available to use (see Example 1).

If FMLA has been taken previously, the employer should look back to the date the employee's 12-month period began or was renewed to determine if any FMLA leave has been used in this period.


In all scenarios below, the employee normally works eight hours per day, Monday-Friday.

Example 1


Jane has worked full time for ABC Company for three years. Jane is pregnant and wishes to take 12 weeks of FMLA leave beginning on June 1.


  1. HR pulls Jane's attendance record and determines that Jane has not taken any previous FMLA leave.
  2. Because there is no FMLA leave to deduct from Jane's 12-week entitlement, Jane is entitled to the full 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth of her baby.
  3. Jane's FMLA 12-month period will begin on June 1.

Example 2


The HR department has been notified that Bob was in a car accident on Sept. 1. HR has been in contact with Bob's wife and discovers that Bob was seriously injured and will require surgery with three weeks of recovery time.


  1. HR pulls Bob's attendance record, which shows that Bob's wife had a baby on May 1 two years ago and that Bob took two weeks of FMLA leave for that event. No other FMLA leave has been used.
  2. HR determines that Bob has not used any FMLA in the previous 12 months; therefore, Bob has the full 12 weeks of FMLA leave for his current serious health condition.
  3. Bob's 12-month period will begin on Sept. 1.

Example 3


Mary's son has leukemia. Mary has notified the HR department that she will need two days off per week to take her son to chemotherapy beginning on Feb. 12. The chemotherapy is expected to last a total of five weeks, for a total of 10 days (or two weeks) of FMLA time.


  1. HR pulls Mary's attendance record, and it shows:
    1. Mary used seven weeks of FMLA leave starting Sept. 1 of the previous year because of her son's illness.
    2. Mary later suffered a broken leg herself in December and took two weeks of FMLA leave.
  2. HR determines that Mary's 12-month period began on Sept. 1 of the previous year.
  3. HR adds the FMLA events that have occurred since Sept. 1 of the previous year. The FMLA time taken in this period totals nine weeks.
  4. HR subtracts the nine weeks from Mary's total 12-week allotment. Mary has three weeks (or 15 days) of FMLA left in this 12-month period.
  5. Mary would be eligible for the intermittent leave requested to begin Feb. 12 for a total of 10 days during the next five weeks.



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