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Key Employees Exempt from Family Leave


Many Ohio employees access their right to family medical leave when they have a serious medical concern or when they need to care for another in the family going through a health crisis. There are protections in place under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows workers who are eligible to take up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period. The leave is unpaid, but it remains an important aspect of healing to many families. That said, the law exempts “key employees,” which leads many to wonder who key employees are within an organization.

Are you being denied FMLA because your employer says you are a key employee? Let an employment attorney help you protect your rights.

Definitions of Key Employees

Key employees who are exempt from FMLA have a few defining characteristics. One is that they are a high paid employee, typically in the top 10% of pay for employees within a certain radius. In the following key employee circumstances, the individual is not guaranteed a return to the same position when they return from leave.

  • Having the key employee return to the same position results in employer economic harm.
  • Employer alerted the employee that they would not be able to restore the position due to losses. The written notice needs to explain how the decision was made and the economic injury to the organization’s operation.
  • Employee makes a decision not to return to the place of employment.

The FMLA exemption is in place because the law recognizes that a small number of employees may be integral to a business remaining viable. If a high-level position being vacant causes significant economic harm to a business, the exemption could be called up in response to a FMLA leave request.

Employees May Be Misclassified

If you are a high-level employee who needs to access FMLA leave, it is important you understand your rights each step of the way, from when you notify your employer of your need to take leave to the time you return to the office.

There are times when employers try to bend the laws to the advantage of an organization. If you believe you were misclassified or that your right to FMLA has been violated, talk to a Columbus FMLA attorney. A skilled FMLA lawyer can let you know what is possible and help you move forward with a case if needed.

When you notify your need for leave, an Ohio employer must give key employees written notice of their status. This is not a designation that can be brought up late in the process. If time is needed to make the determination, an employee should be alerted of that assessment taking place.

Are you a key employee in need of leave? Contact the experienced FMLA lawyers at Coffman Legal LLC today. We are strong and committed advocates for all Ohio workers and use our experience and knowledge to help you. Call 614-949-1181 for a free and confidential consultation about your FMLA rights.


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