June 15, 2022

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Publishes New Guidance on FMLA Leave for Mental Health Conditions

Based on estimates that nearly one in five U.S. adults – or about 52.9 million people – live with a mental illness, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) is determined to ensure that obtaining job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act is not another obstacle to overcome when workers seek the mental health support they need.

Thus, the DOL recently published new guidance on leave for serious mental conditions under the FMLA.

Covered Mental Conditions

 Mental health conditions are considered serious health conditions under the FMLA if they require 1) inpatient care or 2) continuing treatment by a health care provider.

A serious mental health condition that requires inpatient care includes an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility, such as, for example, a treatment center for addiction or eating disorders. 

A serious mental health condition that requires continuing treatment by a health care provider includes:

  • Conditions that incapacitate an individual for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment, either multiple appointments with a health care provider, including a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or clinical social worker, or a single appointment and follow-up care (e.g., prescription medication, outpatient rehabilitation counseling, or behavioral therapy); and
  • Chronic conditions (e.g., anxiety, depression, or dissociative disorders) that cause occasional periods when an individual is incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year.    

Additional Leave Provisions

Leave may also be taken to provide care for a family member, i.e. spouse, child, or parent who is unable to work or perform other regular daily activities because of a serious health condition. Providing care includes providing psychological comfort and reassurance that would be beneficial to a family member.

A parent may use FMLA leave to care for a child 18 years of age or older who is in need of care because of a serious health condition, if the individual is incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.

The FMLA also provides eligible employees with up to 26 workweeks of military caregiver leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember and certain veterans with a serious injury or illness. 

Contact Summers Compton Wells LLC

For further information concerning an employer’s compliance obligations under the FMLA, contact our attorneys who regularly practice in the areas of federal and state employment laws.