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FMLA Covered Conditions: A Closer Look

FMLA Covered Conditions: A Closer Look

The 1993 Family Medical Leave Act is popular among Chicago working families. This federal law gives qualified employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical and family leave per year. 

However, many employers intensely dislike the FMLA. They especially dislike intermittent FMLA leave. Some employers understand little about work-life balance and demand “loyalty” and “dedication” from their employees.

So, although unpaid leave is available, even though you might be legally entitled to time off, you may need a partnership with a Chicago employment attorney to properly assert your rights. This leave is usually available in the following circumstances.

Birth or Adoption

Many employers offer limited maternity or paternity leave. This leave is usually only a few weeks, and it only applies to biological children.

FMLA adoption/birth leave is much longer and much more broad. Both parents may take several weeks off to not only recover from birth trauma but also emotionally bond with their new babies. FMLA birthing leave also applies to legally adopted children.

In both situations, workers are entitled to both pre and post-birth leave. For example, when a family adopts a baby, the process usually involves multiple court appearances and social services inquiries. Additionally, many families leave the country and adopt foreign children. The FMLA applies in all these instances.

Serious Illness

If a medical condition, including an illness or injury, makes it impossible to perform any essential job function, the FMLA applies. This law defines a “serious illness” as:

  • Inpatient Care: If an illness, injury, or other condition requires an overnight stay at a local hospital or other care facility, even if it is only for observation, the FMLA applies. Leave is also available for any follow up care.
  • Three Day Incapacity: Most intermittent FMLA leave relates to the three-day rule. These three days need not be consecutive. For example, an employee might come in late or leave early because of an injury. Moreover, unpaid leave is generally available for up to two follow up doctor visits within 30 days.
  • Chronic Serious Health Conditions: This label usually applies to asthma, epilepsy, and other illnesses which never get better but only occasionally flare-up. Two doctor visits a year for a certain condition usually qualify.

As mentioned, pregnancy and prenatal care also qualify as serious conditions. Expectant or new mothers do not need to go to doctors to receive unpaid leave.

Covered Family Members

If a family member has a serious illness, as outlined above, FMLA leave is available to care for a family member or take care of related matters. Spouses, children, and parents are all eligible family members. Generally, the bond could be biological or legal. Parents could be biological parents or step-parents. However, ex-spouses no longer qualify as spouses, regardless of any emotional bond.

Additionally, if a family member deployed overseas, the FMLA gives employees unpaid leave to assume childcare or other duties and also take time off to visit the person. FMLA leave expands from 12 to 26 weeks if the employee is a caregiver for a wounded servicemember.

Count on an Experienced Attorney

FMLA leave is much broader than many people think. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago employment lawyer, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. We routinely handle matters in Cook County and nearby jurisdictions.


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