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On eve of flu season, know what FMLA covers

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) don’t predict a particularly bad flu season this winter, but it’s a safe bet that some of your employees will come down with influenza.

And as it does every year, flu season brings confusion and questions over whether the flu or a common cold can rise to the level of “serious health condition” that qualifies for FMLA leave.

FMLA regulations state, “Unless complications arise, the common cold [and] flu … do not meet the definition of a serious health condition and do not qualify for FMLA leave.”

But pay attention to those first three words … “unless complications arise.”

If the employee’s bad flu bug forces him to be incapacitated for more than three days, and he sees a doctor and receives an antibiotic, that employee could meet the criteria to be eligible for FMLA leave.

Bottom line: When an employee’s cold or flu goes beyond “normal,” you’ll need to evaluate the condition individually to determine whether it’s a “serious” FMLA-qualifying condition.

In such cases, the FMLA certification form is your best friend, as is your ability to request a second opinion if an employee delivers an FMLA certification that you question.

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