Benefits & Compensation News

Can flu-stricken employees qualify for FMLA leave?

This flu season is shattering records. Already, 29 states have classified local flu outbreaks as “severe.” The leap in absences is bound to generate a surge in FMLA requests, and employers need to be prepared to handle them.

The question on many employers minds will undoubtedly be: Can employees who’ve missed work due to the flu receive FMLA job protection?

The answer: It depends.

According to labor and employment law attorney Holt Hedrick, two federal courts have said those suffering from the flu are eligible for FMLA leave as long as their condition meets the law’s definition of a “serious health condition.”

The sickness must meet at least one of two requirements for it to be considered an FMLA-eligible serious health condition:

  1. It must involve inpatient care (defined as an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility), or
  2. It must require continuing treatment by a health care provider.

For the flu to qualify for the continuing treatment requirement, it must result in a period of incapacity (an inability to work or participate in daily activities) of at least three days, with at least two in-person visits to a health care provider or one in-person visit to a health care provider who prescribes a regimen of continuing treatment (like prescription medication).

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