The Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division recently released an Opinion Letter emphasizing the need to designate an employee’s request for leave as FMLA leave within a specified timeframe. In addition, they stated the FMLA entitlement begins when the employee initially takes FMLA qualified leave and it cannot be delayed. Once an employer has the information it needs to render the leave as qualified, they have 5 business days from that date to provide written notice to the employee that the leave is FMLA qualified. The employer cannot postpone designated FMLA leave even if the employee prefers using accrued paid time off first.
To read more on the topic, refer to the DOL Opinion letter https://www.dol.gov/whd/opinion/FMLA/2019/2019_03_14_1A_FMLA.pdf