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Not a question to sneeze at: Is influenza covered by the FMLA?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Back when Congress was debating the initial passage of the FMLA, there was considerable discussion about what kinds of illnesses would entitle an employee to FMLA protection.

Colds and the flu were frequently mentioned as examples of illnesses not meant to be covered. FMLA regulations bear this out, including this specific language:

“unless complications arise, the common cold, the flu, ear aches, upset stomach, minor ulcers, head­­aches other than migraine, routine dental or orthodontia problems, periodontal disease, etc., are examples of conditions that do not meet the definition of a serious health condition and do not qualify for FMLA leave.”

Based on this, many employers routinely deny FMLA leave for the flu and count such absences against their absenteeism policies.

That can be a mistake. What counts is whether a particular case of the flu meets other FMLA con­ditions. The key phrase: “unless complications arise.”

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