Family and Medical Leave: Summary


The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is intended to provide eligible employees with up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in a rolling 12-month period for a serious health condition and up to 26 work weeks in a single 12 month period for the care of an injured service member as specified by the Act. United policy provides for paid time off (vacation, sick leave, maternity leave, etc.) for absences which qualify under the FMLA guidelines and run concurrently with the 12-work week annual FML allowance.

Leave that is taken under the FML is protected in that it cannot be counted against an employee’s dependability record, and an employee is generally eligible to be reinstated to the employee’s previous position upon return from such leave.

Eligibility for the FML


  • United’s FML policy applies to all regular, full- and part-time salaried, management and union employees who:
    • have at least 12 months service with the company
    • have not used over 12 work weeks of FML in a rolling 12 months
    • for non-crew members, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding the date on which the time off is to begin. 
    • for crew members:
      • have worked or been paid not less than 504 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding the need for FML and
      • have worked or been paid not less than 60% of his/her applicable monthly guarantee for the previous12 month period.

The hours that count toward the required 1,250/504 hours are those you’ve actually worked. In other words, hours for sick leave, vacation, ANP, holidays, commute time, etc., do not count toward the total required hours. Each hour of overtime or holiday work counts as one hour worked, regardless of rate of pay. For crew members, the 504 worked hours are based on duty hours.


The Airline Flight Crew Technical Correction Act was signed into law amending the FMLA eligibility requirements for Flight Attendants and Pilots. Crewmembers must meet both of the below requirements for his/her hours of service to be eligible for FML:

  1. Must have worked or been paid for not less than at least 504 hours (worked hours are identified as duty hours worked, time standing on reserve but not flown, and training). It does not include personal commute time or time spent on vacation leave or medical or sick leave during the previous 12 month period and
  2. Must have worked or been paid not less than 60% of his/her applicable monthly guarantee for the previous 12 month period.

12 Work Weeks of FML in a Rolling 12 month period

An eligible employee is entitled to take a total of 12 work weeks of FML during a 12 month period for any qualified leave (as stated above.) The rolling 12-month period is defined as the 12 months immediately preceding the date you use any FML.

For example, if Nicole took 4 weeks of FML from November 1 through November 30, 2017 and requests FML beginning on June 1, 2018, look back over the 12-month period immediately preceding June 1, 2018. Nicole has already used 4 weeks of her 12 week FML entitlement. She has 8 weeks remaining for FML beginning on June 1, 2018. Based on the above scenario, Nicole would “re-earn” her FML used in November 2017 starting November 2018. On November 1, 2018, Nicole will re-earn the 8 hours of FML used on November 1, 2017.

Absences and/or Leaves Protected by the FMLA

Employee absences/leaves that are covered by the FMLA are as follows:

  • the Serious Health Condition of the employee,
  • care of an employee’s spouse, child, or parent with a Serious Health Condition,
  • care for the employee’s child after the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child with the employee,
  • employee’s care of a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin who is a covered Service member with a serious injury or illness,
  • qualifying exigency arising from a spouse, son, daughter or parent on active duty or call to active duty in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation. A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment or physical/mental condition that involves any of the following:
    • Hospital Care: Inpatient care (an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical facility) including any period of incapacity for subsequent treatment. “Incapacity” for the purpose of the FMLA is defined to mean a total inability to work, attend school, or perform other regular daily activities due to the serious health condition, its treatment and/recovery.
    • Absence Plus Treatment: A period of incapacity (total inability to work or perform other regular daily activities) for more than three consecutive calendar days (including any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition) that also involves:
      • Two or more treatments within 30 days of the first day of incapacity by your health care provider (nurse or physician’s assistant under direct supervision of your health care provider), or by a provider of health care services (e.g., physical therapist) under orders /referral by your health care provider, including examinations to determine if a serious health condition exists and evaluations of the condition. Treatment does not include routine physical examinations, eye examinations, or dental examinations, or
      • Treatment by your health care provider at least one time that results in a regimen of continuing treatment (course of prescription medication or therapy requiring special equipment) under the supervision of your health care provider.

      Note: The first (or only) treatment must take place within 7 days of initial incapacity.

    • Pregnancy: Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care.
    • Chronic Conditions Requiring Treatment: A chronic condition which:
      • Requires periodic visits for treatment by your health care provider, (nurse/ physician’s assistant under direct supervision of your health care provider);
      • Continues over an extended period of time (including recurring episodes of a single underlying condition); and
      • May cause episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity (this may include multiple sclerosis, lupus, etc.).
    • Permanent or Long-Term Conditions Requiring Supervision: A period of incapacity which is permanent or long term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective (this may include Alzheimer’s, severe stroke, or terminal stages of disease). The patient must be under the continuing supervision of their health care provider but need not be receiving active treatment by the provider.
    • Multiple Treatments (Non-Chronic Conditions): Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments by your health care provider, either for restorative surgery after accident or injury, or for a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive calendar days in the absence of medical intervention or treatment. This may include cancer (chemotherapy or radiation) or kidney disease (dialysis).

      Please note: Unless complications arise, the common cold, the flu, ear aches, upset stomach, minor ulcers, dizziness, fatigue, headaches other than migraine, routine dental or orthodontia problems, periodontal disease, etc. are examples of conditions that do not meet the definition of a serious health condition and do not qualify for FMLA Leave.

Auto-designation of FML (excluding Flight Attendants)

You do not need to submit a separate FML certification for episodic conditions, occupational injury/illness or one-time non-occupational illness/injury. When the Company receives sufficient information through your submitted medical documentation (absence certificate, employee status form (ESF), etc.) to determine that the reason for your absence/leave qualifies for FML, the Company will designate the absence/leave as FML for you and notify you. The FML will run concurrently with any other applicable Company leave, including but not limited to non-occupational sick leave, occupational sick leave, etc.

Note: Flight Attendants who wish to have their block absence covered as FML should contact the ESC at (877) 825-3729.

State FML

You may also be eligible for state leave, especially in those states that have established additional FML regulations. Local management will administer the FML process for state FML. For information on state FML, also refer to State FMLA Policy.