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DOL Releases Updated Guidance on When Mental Health Conditions Qualify for FMLA Leave

A new Family and Medical Leave Act fact sheet suggests that up to 40 million adult Americans who suffer from anxiety may be eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected, intermittent, leave under the FMLA every year.

One example in the updated guidance says: “Karen is occasionally unable to work due to severe anxiety. She sees a doctor monthly to manage her symptoms. Karen uses FMLA leave to take time off when she is unable to work unexpectedly due to her condition and when she has a regularly scheduled appointment to see her doctor during her work shift.”

The guidance doesn’t define “severe anxiety,” and the FAQs provide other examples.

Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States, the most common mental illness in the U.S., according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.

Leave may also be taken to provide care for a spouse, child, or parent who is unable to work or perform other regular daily activities because of a serious health condition and “providing care includes providing psychological comfort and reassurance that would be beneficial to a family member with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care.”

Takeaway: Although the updated guidance doesn’t break any new legal ground regarding what is a serious health condition, employers may see an increase in requests for FMLA leave.

Published on: May 27, 2022

Authors: D. Mark Wilson

Topics: Employee Wellbeing, Federal Health Care Reform, Wellness

D. Mark Wilson

President and CEO, American Health Policy Institute

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