Cosmetic surgery usually won’t qualify for FMLA leave

Q. One of our employees is having cosmetic surgery and plans to take leave. Would that fall under the FMLA, or would it be a leave of absence? —K.H., Connecticut

A. Surprise! Your employees may be entitled to federally protected medical leave for their tummy tucks, nose jobs and face-lifts. Remember: The definition of “serious health condition” under the FMLA has nothing to do with the nature of the underlying condition.

Rule of thumb: A serious health condition exists if (1) the cosmetic treatment involves inpatient care; (2) complications develop; or (3) the treatment follows illness or injury (such as the removal of a cancerous growth). In most—but certainly not all—other cases, cosmetic treatments are not serious health conditions.