Philadelphia Employment Law News

When Can I Take FMLA Leave for a Medical Condition?

You can only take FMLA leave for serious medical conditions.

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot simply request FMLA every time you feel sick or want to care for a loved one.

Instead, to take FMLA leave for a medical reason, you will need to show that the medical condition qualifies as a "serious health condition."

What is a Serious Health Condition?

There are several different ways for a medical condition to qualify as a serious health condition. Some of the most common serious health conditions that qualify for FMLA leave, as provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, include:

  • A medical condition that requires you or a family member to spend a night in a hospital or other medical care facility.

  • A condition that incapacitates you or a family member for three or more consecutive days and requires ongoing medical treatment. Incapacity can mean that the medical condition is serious enough that it makes you unable to go to work or a family member to attend school.

  • A chronic condition that causes you or a family member to suffer periods of incapacity. These chronic conditions generally must require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year.

  • Pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions. These can include prenatal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, medically required bed rest, and the pregnancy itself.

Requesting FMLA Leave

If you believe that you may have a serious health condition qualifying for FMLA leave, you will have to follow the normal procedures for requesting leave as set forth by your employer.

Generally, for a foreseeable medical condition, you should provide at least 30 days' notice of leave. For unforeseeable conditions, you should provide notice of the leave as soon as reasonably possible.

If you have questions, you should work with human resource professionals at your place of work and your doctors to provide the appropriate paperwork.

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