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Determining FML Eligibility for Exempt Employees

photo of a blue notebook with the following yellow title: FMLA Family and Medical Leave Act

Employers must calculate family and medical leave (FML) eligibility for exempt employees based on actual hours worked, not the established work schedule.

Accurate time records for exempt workers are usually not available so an employer must establish a method of determining whether an employee meets the 1,250 hours worked criteria to be eligible for FML. For exempt employees, the employer must consider all hours worked beyond the regular schedule.

This becomes an issue when leave is denied because an exempt employee doesn’t meet the 1,250-hour requirement. The burden for showing the employee didn’t work the required hours belongs to the employer. For the majority of exempt workers, employers must consider the actual hours worked on a case-by-case basis. The key is to select a reasonable method or standard and apply it consistently.

Teacher and Principal Standards

For teachers and principals, districts can look to national surveys that provide information on the typical number of hours teachers and principals work. Surveys over the past couple of years report teachers work between a median of 53 to 55 hours per week. Using the highest number, it would be reasonable to use 11 hours per workday to determine a teacher’s FML eligibility. The range of hours for a principal is up to 62 hours per week.

Intermittent Leave Allotment

All hours normally worked also must be considered when calculating the amount of leave available and used for intermittent leave. For other exempt employees the district may work with individual employees to determine the number of hours worked in the preceding 12-month period to establish eligibility and calculate intermittent leave allotment.

Additional Resources

Additional information on this topic includes:

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April Mabry
April Mabry
Best Practices: Salary Notification Letters

April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools  since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.

Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.

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