How Many Weeks of FMLA Do Spouses Who Work For The Same Employer Receive?

couple holding each otherThis question is extremely common. And the truth is that a couple of different situations govern how much FMLA leave a married couple might receive from their shared employer. But first of all, it must be assumed that the employer and employees are eligible for FMLA leave.

FMLA Eligibility Requirements

Employers must meet one of the below bullet points to be obligated to follow FMLA.

  • A private employer that employs 50+ employees for at least 20 work weeks
  • All state, local, and federal agencies and educational agencies

Employees are also supposed to meet certain requirements before they are eligible for FMLA leave.

  • Be employed with the company for 12 months, whether consecutive months or not
  • Employee must have worked 1,250 hours preceding the leave

Traditionally, FMLA provides employees with 12 job-protected, unpaid work leave. In some cases, such as if a worker is a military caregiver, he or she could receive up to 26 work weeks of unpaid leave.

So back to the real question.

If Both Spouses Work For The Same Employer, How Much FMLA Leave Is Available To Them?

The short answer is that it depends on the situation. FMLA allows employers to limit total parenting leave available to married spouses who work for the same employer. Therefore, when the FMLA leave is for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, then the parents receive 12 weeks in total to use between the two of them. However, if someone in their family requires care giving, each spouse would individually receive 12 work weeks of unpaid leave.

Examples of Couple FMLA Leave

For example, Amelia and Joseph, a married couple, are employed by a federal agency. When Amelia gives birth to their new baby. Under FMLA, both can take  six weeks of leave to care for the newborn. At the end of the 6 weeks, they’ve used their 12-week allotment. But, if Amelia suffers an injury that same year, she would still receive 6 weeks of FMLA leave for recovery.

Another example, Hannah and Derek are married and employed with the same business. Early in Hannah’s pregnancy, she takes a week of FMLA leave for morning sickness. Near the end of her pregnancy, Hannah is put on bed rest and so must take two weeks of FMLA leave. Then, Hannah takes one more week of FMLA leave for recovery from the birth. Those four weeks of FMLA leave don’t count towards the couple’s combined 12 weeks of parenting/bonding leave since those four weeks were for a serious health condition.

Why Does FMLA Only Restrict Married Couples?

Although this might seem like FMLA is working against married couples, it’s actually a way to encourage employers to hire married couples. FMLA reduces the burden on employers when two married employees choose to have children. Meanwhile, FMLA doesn’t allow employers to restrict the FMLA leave of unmarried couples who welcome a child.

If your employer has violated your rights to FMLA leave, contact an employment lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an attorney: (412) 626-5626 or