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Walking the Talk: FMLA Leave for Mental Health Issues


In the wake of the COVID pandemic and challenging social justice issues, many employers have pledged increasing support and wellness programs for employees dealing with mental health issues. One way employers can make good on these promises (and comply with the law) is by recognizing the application of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to situations where leave is needed for a mental health reason.

The FMLA permits eligible employees to utilize available FMLA leave time when needed because of a serious physical or mental health condition that renders the employee unable to perform the essential job duties or the employee’s covered family member unable to perform regular daily activities, and requires either inpatient care or ongoing treatment by a health care provider. Severe anxiety, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all examples of serious mental health conditions that may be covered by the FMLA. Psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and mental health therapists may all meet the FMLA definition of health care provider.

The federal Department of Labor recently reminded both employers and employees of the potential application of the FMLA when mental health conditions […]

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