How does FMLA address a serious health issue?

New York workers have the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide various protections and rights. One of the reasons for taking the time off accorded to workers under FMLA is if there is a serious health condition being suffered by a worker or a family member of the worker. Understanding how the law defines "serious health condition" and the medical certification that is required to prove that it was necessary and applicable to FMLA is essential when seeking to use this benefit.

An eligible serious health condition is an injury, illness, impairment or mental or physical condition that has one or more of the following: a time at which there will be incapacity or treatment as part of inpatient care at a facility; incapacity that will last for more than three calendar days from work, school or other activities that requires treatment and supervision of a health care professional; a period in which the person must be inactive because of pregnancy or providing prenatal care; a time of inactivity because of a serious health issue; a time period that is permanent or of an extended period because of the treatment that might not be effective; missing work because of treatments after a referral by a health care professional that might lead to incapacity of more than three straight days if it there is no treatment.

The medical certification might be needed. The employer is required to give the worker at least 15 calendar days to provide this certification. The employer can also require that the employee get a second medical certification. If so, the employer will pay for it. If there is a difference of opinion between the employee and the medical provider the employer designated, there can be a third medical opinion to settle it. This too will be paid by the employer.

For employees who believe that FMLA will allow them to take time off for a serious health condition suffered by themselves or a loved one, they are right. However, there are various rules that must be followed including why the time off can be granted and the medical certification that goes along with it. If there are issues with this aspect of labor law, discussing a case with a legal professional experienced in employee benefits can help.

Source:, "The Family and Medical Leave Act -- Serious Health Condition; Medical Certification," accessed on Sept. 19, 2017

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