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What’s an FMLA ‘serious health condition’?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

First things first when determining how to handle a request for FMLA leave: Does the employee (or a loved one) have a “serious health condition” that qualifies for FMLA leave? Under the law, that means an illness, injury impairment or physical or mental condition that involves at least one of the following:

Hospital care: Inpatient (overnight) care in a hospital, hospice or residential care facility, including any period of incapacity or treatment connected to inpatient care.

Absence plus treatment: A period of incapacity of more than three consecutive calendar days (including any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition) that also involves one of the following:

  • Two or more visits to a health care provider. The first visit must occur within seven days of the first day of the incapacity, and both visits must take place within 30 days.
  • A regimen of continuing treatment, with the first visit taking place within seven days of the onset of the incapacity.

Pregnancy: Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, or for prenatal care.

Chronic conditions requiring treatments: A chronic condition that extends over a period of time and requires periodic treatments. “Periodic visits” are defined as at least two visits to a health care provider per year. During that period, the incapacity may be episodic rather than continuous. Examples: Asthma, epilepsy or diabetes.

Permanent/long-term conditions requiring supervision: A permanent or long-term incapacity due to a condition that may not respond to treatment. The employee or family member must be under the continuing supervision of (but need not be receiving active treatment by) a health care provider. Examples: Alzheimer’s or the terminal stages of a disease.

Multiple treatments (nonchronic conditions): Any period of absence to recover from or receive multiple treatments for restorative surgery after an accident or injury, or for a condition that would probably result in a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive calendar days in the absence of medical treatment, such as cancer (chemotherapy, etc.), severe arthritis (physical therapy) and kidney disease (dialysis).

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