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Reasons that Qualify for FMLA Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons in a 12-month period, with no disruption in group health insurance.

Since not every reason qualifies for FMLA protection, it is important to understand the types of events that are eligible and the specific limitations of each.

FMLA-protected events include:

  1. Childbirth and newborn bonding.
    • An employee’s entitlement expires 12 months after the child’s date of birth.

    • Both mothers and fathers have the same rights to take FMLA for this event.

    • Birth and bonding leave must be taken as a continuous block of leave unless the employer agrees to intermittent leave (by taking a few weeks at a time or reducing normal work hours in a given week).

    • When both parents work for the same company, only one parent may qualify for pregnancy or childbirth related leave.
  2. Pregnancy leave.
    • In some cases, pregnancy may qualify for FMLA as a serious health condition, particularly in situations where a doctor puts the employee on bed rest during the pregnancy.

    • Fathers may be able to use FMLA leave to provide care for his incapacitated spouse due to pregnancy.

    • Requests related to pregnancy-related leave may require medical certification. (hotlink “medical certification” to http://employment.findlaw.com/family-medical-leave/fmla-certification-of-need-for-leave.html)
  3. Placement of an adopted or foster care child and bonding with the newly-placed child.
    • An employee’s entitlement expires 12 months after the placement.

    • FMLA leave may take place before the placement of the child if the absence is required for the placement to proceed. (Examples include counseling sessions, court appearances, consultations with an lawyer or travel to another country to complete an adoption.)

    • Bonding leave with a child after placement must be taken as a continuous block of leave unless the employer agrees to intermittent leave.
  4. A serious health condition makes the employee unable to perform the functions of their job.
    • To be deemed “unable to perform the functions of the position” a health care provider must find that the employee is unable to work at all or unable to perform any one of the essential functions of the employee’s position.

    • A serious health condition can include illness, injury, impairment, or psychical or mental condition that involves either inpatient or continuing treatment by a health care provider.

    • An employee who must be absent from work to receive medical treatment for a serious health condition is considered unable to perform the essential functions of the position during their absence for treatment.

    • There must be “period of incapacity” of more than three consecutive calendar days to qualify for FMLA. If an employee’s condition requires two or more visits to a health care provider for the same condition, those visits must occur within 30 days of the first day the employee became incapacitated.

    • The treatment of a chronic health condition must occur at least twice in any calendar year, and employees may also be required to show medical certification. (Same hotlink as above)
  5. An employee needs to provide care for their spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition. 
    • This applies when the family member is unable to care for their medical, safety or other needs or needs help being transported to the doctor.

    • It also includes providing psychological comfort and reassurance to the family member with the serious health condition.

    • FMLA leave does not typically apply to common illnesses such as colds or the flu.

    • For the purposes of FMLA, only spouses, children or parents are considered family members. (Others, such as in-laws and grandparents, are not.)
  6. Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty.
    • Qualifying exigencies include taking care of a family member who was injured while on active duty in the military or handling certain matters arising out of a family member’s deployment.

    • An employee may take qualifying exigency leave for the deployment of any aged son or daughter.

Should you have any questions related to what is considered FMLA-protected leave, please contact us online or call our offices at (561) 653-0008. At Scott Law Team., our approachable and knowledgeable lawyers are dedicated to providing skilled legal representation for your unique situation.    


  • United States Department of Labor
  • FindLaw
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