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May 03, 2017

Time off for child care may qualify for FMLA leave

Leave Laws 

Q: An employee has requested time off two days each week to care for her autistic toddler who was recently expelled from his daycare. Are those absences covered by FMLA?

A: Maybe. Assuming both the employer and employee are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the employee is entitled to FMLA leave to care for her toddler if his autism meets the definition of a serious health condition. FMLA leave is often related to an illness or injury, but the definition of a serious health condition also includes an “impairment or physical or mental condition” if it involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. For permanent or long-term conditions such as autism, the family member must be under the continuing supervision of a health care provider but doesn’t need to be actively receiving treatment. So, even though the triggering event for needing time off in this situation is the loss of child care, the employee could qualify for FMLA since she is staying home to care for a child with a long-term condition.

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