As the National Mental Health Awareness Month drew to a close, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published new guidance regarding mental health conditions and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), including Fact Sheet # 28O: Mental Health Conditions and the FMLA and Frequently Asked Questions on the FMLA’s mental health provisions. The guidance is intended to assist employees with serious mental health conditions get the support they need, and to provide employers with the right tools to support their employees.
It’s important that employers ensure their workplaces are inclusive and provide necessary support for all employees who face a health concern. According to the National Institute of Health, it’s estimated that nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness. For employees coping with mental illness, they may face barriers to getting help, such as social stigma and lack of available services or resources. Of the approximately 52.9 million people, it is estimated that only about half receive the help they need. FMLA leave may be an option for those suffering from mental illness.
Who Qualifies for FMLA Leave?
As a reminder, the FMLA provides eligible employees unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Employees are entitled to continuation of group health insurance coverage during their leave, under the same terms and conditions they would have if they had not taken the leave. Eligible employees, who work for covered employers, are entitled to:
- 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
- the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
- the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
- to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
- a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of the employee’s job;
- any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;”
- 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).
Under the FMLA, a serious health condition is not just a physical impairment, but also includes mental health conditions. To qualify, serious mental health conditions require inpatient care or continuing treatment from a healthcare provider, including an overnight stay in a treatment center for addiction or continuing treatment by a clinical psychologist.
Guidance for Employers
In building and maintaining an inclusive and supportive workplace, employers should ensure their employees know what assistance and resources are available, including FMLA leave. Employers should continually review their FMLA policies and procedures to ensure that all eligible employees have access to the assistance they might need.
Additional guidance can be found at the WHD website and on their FMLA Compliance Assistance Toolkit webpage.
What ReedGroup Is Doing
As a third-party administrator, ReedGroup is committed to serving our clients’ unique needs. Our software is designed to accommodate, and our operations teams are trained to handle, different FMLA considerations, including mental health conditions. If you’re looking for assistance managing leave of absence or accommodations or to ensure compliance across your organization, ReedGroup has solutions for you. Review our offerings here.
Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.