Can Employees Take FMLA for a Cold or Flu?

Department of Labor says “maybe.”

The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to give their employees 12 weeks unpaid leave each year for a serious health condition, or to care for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition.

Employers often misunderstand what “serious health condition” means, and frequently deny leave to employees because they do not think their illnesses are serious enough.

In fact, almost any illness is a serious health condition if it meets certain statutory requirements, even the flu.

The U.S. Department of Labor has recently published an Opinion Letter saying a cold or flu “may be a serious health condition for FMLA purposes, if the individual is incapacitated for more than three consecutive calender days and receives continuing treatment by a health care provider.”

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