FMLA and Mental Now as One
Updates to FMLA to Include Mental Health
What is FMLA?
FMLA is the Family and Medical Leave Act. While many of the rules to obtain FMLA have remained the same, the overall objective has been broadened. FMLA provides job-protected leave to address health and now, mental health conditions.
An employee is eligible for FMLA if they have been covered by the employer for a minimum of 12 months, have at least 1,250 hours of service for that employer during that 12 month period before the leave takes place and the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of their location.
The leave can be unpaid or may be used in conjunction with paid leave the employee has retained.
FMLA requires employers to do the following:
Provide 12 work weeks of FMLA leave each year
Continue the employee’s group health benefits under the same condition as if the employee were not on leave
Restore the employee to the same or virtually identical position at the end of the leave period.
FMLA and Mental Health
An eligible employee may take FMLA to care for themselves or a loved one with a serious health condition. A serious health condition can now include mental health whereas it used to be a physical condition. FMLA defines a ‘serious’ condition as one that requires one of the following:
Inpatient Care: including an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical facility.
conditions that incapacitate an individual for more than 3 consecutive days and require ongoing treatment.
chronic conditions: anxiety, depression or dissociative disorders, that cause periods where the person is incapacitated and requires treatment by a health care professional.
For cases similar to the above, the employer may request the healthcare provider to supply the needs of the FMLA leave. For example, if someone needs to be out to go to a therapy appoint once per week for an hour at a time, the healthcare provider would notate this for the employer to keep in their files; the diagnosis is not required or needed in this notation.
FMLA requires employers to keep employee medical records confidential and have separate files from routine personnel files. These files are maintained confidentially; which is required by the ADA and GINA. FMLA also ensures that employers do not retaliate against an employee that utilizes FMLA. Meaning that an employee has the right to use their FMLA and the employer cannot prohibit, restrain or interfere with it.
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