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When disaster strikes, are employees eligible for FMLA?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

With tornados, floods and fires topping the news in recent months, a question arises: What’s an employer’s obligation to give FMLA leave when the disaster affects employees or their families?

For starters, the FMLA does not require employers to give FMLA leave for per­­sonal matters, such as cleaning up damaged homes. But you would need to provide FMLA leave to eligible em­­ployees if they—or a spouse, child or parent—suffer physical or mental ailments that meet the “serious condition” threshold.

In some cases, a natural disaster could cause an employee’s chronic condition—such as anxiety or high blood pressure—to flare up, causing them to be unable to perform the job.

Plus, some employees who go through natural disasters may be able to point to a doctor-diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That would trigger FMLA leave as well as potential obligations under the ADA.

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