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Can you take FMLA leave for a chronic condition?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2024 | Medical Leave/FMLA

The federal law known as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take unpaid employment leave to tend to certain, qualifying, family and medical reasons while maintaining their job protection. 

One of the key provisions of the FMLA involves an allowance for leave due to serious health conditions, which includes certain chronic conditions. These conditions may be related to an injury, illness, impairment or other concerns that require care in an inpatient setting or continuing treatment by a provider.

Ultimately, chronic conditions are explicitly recognized under the FMLA, provided they meet the following criteria:

  • Long-term duration: The condition must last over an extended period although it may only cause episodic incapacity impacting the ability to perform one’s job duties.
  • Periodic visits to a healthcare provider: An employee must receive treatment at least twice a year for their condition.

With that said, to take FMLA leave for a chronic condition, you must meet certain eligibility criteria that apply to workers regardless of their reasons for taking leave. These conditions concern the nature of your employer’s operations, the duration of your work with your employer and the number of hours you worked on their behalf in the 12 months before taking leave. 

Requesting FMLA leave

When seeking FMLA leave for a chronic condition, you’ll want to inform your employer as soon as you know you need leave. If your leave is foreseeable, provide at least 30 days’ notice. If it is unforeseeable, notify them as soon as possible.

Once they have been notified, your employer may require a certification from your healthcare provider to confirm your condition and the necessity of leave. This certification should include details about your chronic condition, the need for leave and the expected duration and frequency of your absence(s).

It is also worth noting that if your chronic condition requires it, you can request intermittent leave or a reduced work schedule. This flexibility may allow you to take leave in separate blocks of time or reduce your daily or weekly work hours based on medical necessity.

If you have any questions about your rights and/or the process of taking leave, that’s okay. It’s not always a straightforward process. Seeking personalized legal guidance can help.