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DOL Reminds Employers Mental Health Part of FMLA

In May 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor released two guidance documents regarding mental health and the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).

Fact Sheet #280: Mental Health Conditions and the FMLA details when employees may use FMLA to address their mental health or that of their family members. Mental health conditions are considered serious under the FMLA if they require inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. The DOL defines inpatient care to include a treatment center for addiction or eating disorders. The DOL provides examples of what qualifies for FMLA leave. Cited examples include: traveling to an inpatient facility for a child who has completed drug rehabilitation or an employee's own regularly scheduled doctor's appointment for severe anxiety. The Fact Sheet reminds employers to keep medical records confidential and away from general personnel files.

The other newly updated document is Mental Health and the FMLA with frequently asked questions. Eligible employees under the FMLA may use leave to care for a covered family member with a serious mental condition. This leave includes attending a family counseling session for a spouse attending an inpatient treatment program for substance abuse or a parent suffering from depression who needs day-to-day assistance with self-care. The FMLA includes protected time off as helping with "basic medical, hygenic, nutritional or safety needs, and filling in for others who normally provide care.”