FMLA and mental healthwhat you need to know as an employer.

AuthorNichols, Ryan
PositionNuts & Bolts

Do you have an employee looking to take FMLA for mental health? Following are some tips and guidelines to know when it comes to employees taking FMLA for mental health reasons.

Qualifying for FMLA leave depends on the company and how long the employee has worked there. Private employers and government employers have slightly different criteria. A set of requirements must be met for a worker to be considered an eligible employee. The employee must:

* Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months. Breaks in service are allowed as long as they are for less than seven years.

* Have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer within the last 12 months. Thus, some part-time workers are covered if their hours total 1,250 for the year.

* Work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

If they meet these criteria, then they are eligible for FMLA leave.

Qualifying mental health conditions

The DOL has touched on what mental health conditions may qualify for FMLA leave in updated guidance. A mental health condition is considered a protected "serious health condition" if the employee requires "inpatient care OR continuing treatment by a health care provider."

A mental health condition requiring inpatient care might include a stay at a medical facility for an eating disorder, addiction or another crisis-level event that leaves an employee unable to work.

A mental health condition requiring continual treatment is broader. The two guidelines the DOL provides are:

* Conditions that incapacitate an individual for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment, either multiple appointments with a health-care provider, including a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist or clinical social worker, or a single appointment and follow-up care (e.g., prescription medication, outpatient rehabilitation counseling or behavioral therapy); and * Chronic conditions (e.g., anxiety, depression or dissociative disorders) that cause occasional periods when an individual is incapacitated and require treatment by a healthcare provider at least twice a year.

Intermittent FMLA leave

Employees with mental health challenges are good candidates for intermittent FMLA leave. This is leave taken in chunks spread over time instead of in one large sum. Requests should be submitted with at least 30 days' notice when possible. As part of the process, you should try to lock in the expected frequency and duration of the...

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