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If an employee’s loved one dies, can he use FMLA leave to settle estate affairs?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. One of our employees has been out on FMLA leave for seven weeks taking care of his sick mother in another state. We approved a full 12 weeks of leave. I received a voice mail from him saying that his mother died. He also said that he had to clear up a lot of things with his mother’s estate, but that he would be back by the end of his scheduled leave. Can he do that, or can I tell him he needs to come back sooner?

A. The FMLA does not cover leave to deal with a parent’s estate. You probably don’t need to allow the employee to continue his leave under the FMLA.

However, other consequences of a parent’s death could be covered under the FMLA.

The FMLA covers leave to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) with a “serious health condition” or for the employee’s own serious health condition. For example, if the employee suffers depression as a result of the death, that condition may meet the definition of an FMLA-covered serious health condition. Similarly, the employee may be entitled to leave “to care for” a spouse, son, daughter or parent who is suffering either physically or mentally as a result of the death of a loved one, if that suffering meets the standard for a serious health condition.

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