The Chicago Employment Law Blog

What Is a Serious Health Condition for FMLA Leave?

If you are looking to take FMLA leave for a medical reason, you will need to know what a serious health condition means.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does not allow eligible employees to take time off for just any health reason. Instead, your condition, or that of a family member, must be serious enough to warrant protection under the FMLA.

What Qualifies as a Serious Health Condition?

Generally, the most common serious health conditions that qualify for FMLA leave, as provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, are:

  • Conditions that require an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility.

  • Conditions that incapacitate you or your family member for three or more consecutive days and requires ongoing medical treatment. This can include a condition that renders you unable to work or impacts your family member's ability to go to school.

  • Chronic conditions that cause occasional periods when you or your family member are incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year.

  • Pregnancy. This can include prenatal medical appointments, any incapacity due to morning sickness, and medically required bed rest.

Health Issues Stemming From Domestic Violence

The FMLA may also be available for certain health-related issues stemming from domestic violence. For example, an eligible employee may be able to take time off for post-traumatic stress from an episode of domestic violence. Such leave can be taken either for the employee's own health condition or to care for a qualifying family member's medical condition that resulted from domestic violence.

Requesting FMLA Leave

If you believe that you may have a serious health condition qualifying for FMLA leave, you should work with your doctor and your employer's human resources department. If your leave request is denied, and you believe the denial was unjustified, you should consider contacting a lawyer.

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