How to Handle Employees Who Are Ineligible for FMLA


Business owners can’t say that they look forward to the day that an employee needs to take an extended leave for medical care. Even if you can fill the position or keep the workflow going, you have to accommodate the employee’s return as well.

To complicate things further, you later find out that the employee is ineligible for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act).

The US Department of Labor reports 60 percent of employees qualify for FMLA coverage. This leaves a large number of private sector employees that need to find alternatives to maintaining employment.

If you don’t have a professional benefits resource, finding a workaround can be tough. You may lose talented employees to unforeseen circumstances.

Before this unfortunate scenario happens to you, learn what options you have.

Ineligible for FMLA?

The first step in finding alternatives to FMLA coverage is determining if the coverage is gone. You will want to look for exemptions to FMLA policy and your own company’s termination clauses. Finally, you want to seek out ways to help the employee within guidelines to keep the company whole.


FMLA covers employees that meet the following:

  • Employed for 12 months (up to leave date)
  • 1250 hours required to be worked in that period
  • Employer must be public or employ 50 + people within 75 miles of the office

The purpose of the act is to provide help to families facing a medical or personal hardship, without fear of sacrificing their job. To narrow down exactly what situations qualify, check this FMLA eligibility checklist:

  • Care of a newborn
  • Pre-birth or adoption preparation
  • Active duty transition for the employee or spouse
  • To care for the employees or immediate family’s serious health problems

If none of these apply, you will have to find an alternative to aiding the employee.


The most common exemption for coverage is for pregnant employees. Pregnancy counts as a temporary disability under the ADA. As you must offer reasonable accommodations for such an employee, it can be easier to look for leaves of absence. The ADA only covers leave, not extended leave, though.

Remember that FMLA exemptions are also covered under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. While FMLA covers 12 weeks of time, often pregnancy recovery needs 6 weeks.


The best alternative is to cover the employee under either the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). After that, your options start to break down. The government doesn’t offer compensation for other leave.

This means you have to work out a specific contract with the employee. If you wish to keep them, you will need to lay out the timeline for their return and cover their work. Obviously, the company would need to halt or rescind any benefits the employee receives through the company until return.

These aren’t great alternatives but knowing the job exists to return can aid recovery.

Keep it Covered

If you find dealing with these sorts of problems taxing and maddening, look for alternatives. You don’t have to lose valuable employees because they are ineligible for FMLA.

You also don’t have to understand FMLA on your own. Reach out to a professional employer organizations (PEO) to get started. The team at GIGA, for example, works closely with business owners to implement top-notch employee benefit programs and align businesses with PEO partners.

After a brief information gathering session, they will reach out to a variety of insurance providers for a business, matching them with only the best benefit packages.

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