What’s Considered a Serious Health Condition Under the FMLA? | Mann & Elias
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What’s Considered a Serious Health Condition Under the FMLA?


A serious illness is something we hope we never have to face within our families. Still, when a loved one develops a critical medical condition, it can be hard to focus on anything but the future. Our jobs come second to our families, which is why the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) got passed at a federal level.

The FMLA grants employees the right to take time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition or deal with their serious health condition. Eligible employees are given 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave each year without worrying about the threat of being fired. It also requires that employers maintain the worker’s health benefits as if they were still on the job. This law helps employees prioritize their health and family while also protecting their jobs.

For this medical leave to be lawfully taken, the employee must provide 30 days’ notice before taking time off to care for sick loved ones. However, if it’s an emergency, they should notify their employer as soon as possible. The workplace can legally request medical certification for FMLA leave, but they cannot obtain any medical records.

A job-protected sick leave attorney in Los Angeles will tell you that medical leave cannot be taken out of PTO days, and if your employer denies you your full FMLA-mandated leave, then you need a lawyer.

What is Considered a Serious Medical Condition by FMLA

The FMLA guarantees 12 weeks of leave to employees that have family members with the following conditions or are dealing with the following conditions themselves:

  • Inpatient care
  • Incapacity for more than three days with continuing treatment by a health care provider
  • Birth of a son or daughter
  • Chronic serious health conditions
  • Care of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a health condition
  • Transitions in and out of duty for those serving or with spouses serving in the military

Chronic health conditions covered by the FMLA may include asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy. The FMLA covers conditions that require periodic visits for treatment, specified as at least two visits per year with a health care provider. If the employee is recovering after an accident or injury, the act also considers this a serious health condition. The FMLA also covers long-term or permanent conditions that can’t always be treated effectively, such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, or terminal cancer.

As the COVID-19 pandemic develops in the United States, you may be wondering if falling ill with the coronavirus counts under the FMLA. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives two weeks of paid sick leave for employees who must quarantine due to having the virus or waiting for a diagnosis. They can also take two weeks off work at a rate of two-thirds of their regular wage to care for someone else who is subject to quarantine or to look after their child who is learning remotely.

Which Employees Are Eligible Under FMLA

As an employee, you deserve the right to keep your job when you take a break to care for yourself or a seriously ill family member. However, not every employee in the United States is entitled to this time. See the list below for eligible employees:

  • The employee must have been with the company for at least a full year
  • The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the start of FMLA leave
  • The company employs 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite
  • The company is a public agency

Limitations to the FMLA 

The FMLA covers spouses, parents, and children of employees. It does not cover in-laws nor children over the age of 18 unless that person is deemed incapable of caring for themselves.

FMLA leave is intended only for serious ailments, and colds and other minor health concerns don’t typically qualify. However, everyone’s health and immune system are different, and what may be cured with a day or two of rest for one person may put another in the hospital. Other conditions not covered are:

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Headaches (not related to migraines)
  • Earaches
  • Upset stomachs
  • Minor ulcers

A Los Angeles labor attorney for employees can shed more light on what is and isn’t considered a serious illness, and they can also fight for you if your employer is trying to deny you your rights guaranteed by the FMLA. If you need legal representation for your case, contact Mann & Elias to see if your condition should get covered in a court of law.


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