Q: “An employee requests permission to arrive 5-10 minutes late for work each morning because her spouse suffers from multiple sclerosis, and is so fatigued that he cannot get out of bed on his own in the morning to take his medicine. Is the employee considered eligible for? Is an employee asking to leave work on occasion to pick up her father, who suffers from dementia and sometimes wanders off, eligible for intermittent ?” – April, Tennessee
A: Quite likely, yes. TheAct allows leave for an eligible employee when the employee is needed to care for certain qualifying family members (child, spouse or parent) with a serious health condition. According to the Department of Labor, “Needed to care for” includes both physical and psychological care. It includes, for example, providing care for a qualifying family member who, because of a serious health condition, is unable to care for his or her own basic medical, hygienic, nutritional or safety needs. This example would appear to cover both the examples you give above, assuming always that the employee is otherwise eligible for .
Other reasons the DOL considers qualifying may include the need to provide psychological comfort and reassurance that would be beneficial to a child, spouse or parent with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care, or filling in for others who normally care for the family member or to make arrangements for changes in care. These latter examples would seem to encompass the need to care for the father with dementia, even if he were perfectly safe while outside the care he receives when not wandering. You can find guidance on the DOL website as well as jump to links to updated (issued May 2015).