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COVID-19 and FMLA leave: you and your family

With the rise of COVID-19, we face new issues and questions about work. While many companies are allowing employees to work from home, some do not have that ability. New questions about necessary leave for contracting the virus are constantly arising.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) addresses employers and their requirements to provide leave for medical issues of employees and their families. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division discussed issues with the act that have become prevalent since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who is covered by FMLA?

You are covered by FMLA if you are an employee who meets the following requirements:

  • You have been at your company for 12 months
  • You have worked 1,250 hours before leave
  • Your employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite

What type of leave can eligible employees take under FMLA?

FMLA allows you to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious health conditions or need to care for a family member with a condition. You will also have job protection during that time of leave.

Can you take FMLA leave for COVID-19?

COVID-19 may qualify as a “serious health condition” depending on the individual and its effect. The virus has a wide range of severity, so it may be considered serious in some and not serious in others.

You can take FMLA leave to care for a “covered family member” who has COVID-19 when it shows up as a serious health condition. Covered family members are immediate, such as spouses, children or parents.

Covered employees cannot take FMLA leave to avoid COVID-19. As of now, you also cannot take FMLA leave to care for children who must stay home but do not have COVID-19.

If you need to take leave because of the COVID-19 pandemic, either to care for yourself or a family member, first look at your employment contract and talk to your employer. You can also talk with an attorney and consult FMLA regulations.

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