If you are interested in taking FMLA leave, there are a few things you are required to do. This is not as simple as deciding to take a leave and not showing up at work for an extended period of time.
Do you know in advance that you want to take an FMLA leave, such as because you are pregnant? If so, you are required to provide your employer with a minimum of 30 days advance notice.
If you need to take an unplanned leave, such as for a family medical emergency, the law requires you to notify your employer as soon as possible.
You are not required to ask specifically to take FMLA leave when making your first request. However, you are required to provide your employer with enough information for them to determine if your leave is covered by the FMLA.
If you fail to provide your employer with enough information, there is a chance that your leave will not be protected by the FMLA.
Many people worry about this because they don't want to share too much information with their employer, in fears that it could work against them in the future. You are not required to tell your company of your diagnosis, but you should make it clear that your leave is associated with an FMLA protected condition.
There is a lot that goes into requesting an FMLA leave, so you must make sure you take all the right steps. Even if you do everything right, your employer could break the law in some way, shape, or form. At that point, you have to deal with a separate issue.
Source: United States Department of Labor, "The Employee's Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act," accessed May. 21, 2015