What Is a Medical Leave of Absence?

A medical leave of absence is the leave type for employees who are facing a physical or mental health issue that doesn’t allow them to perform their job properly. 

What Qualifies for a Medical Leave of Absence? 

Initially, most employees try to skate by with sick leave but once they exhaust that, it’s a good idea to see if they’re eligible for a medical leave of absence. 

In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected time off to employees. 

FMLA leave is granted in the following circumstances: 

Health Conditions of Employee or Dependants

Employees can take FMLA to leave when their health condition impedes them from working or they have to look after dependants who is suffering from a serious ailment. 

Health conditions that are covered by the FMLA are:

  • If an employee has to spend a night at a medical care facility either for themself or a family member 
  • When an employee isn’t able to work for three consecutive days either because of their own health or dependants. 
  • Chronic illnesses that flare up occasionally but incapacitate the employee or their dependant for a considerable time. 
  • Pregnancy including morning sickness and non-optional rests. 

Military Family Leave 

Employees can take an unpaid leave of up to 26 weeks to care for family members who are service members with a debilitating medical condition. 

Family Expansion 

Employees are entitled to FMLA leaves when they plan on growing their families. This includes when a child is born or adopted.

Eligibility for Medical Leave of Absence

Employer Eligibility

Only businesses with more than 50 employees are covered by the FMLA. Government agencies and schools qualify for FMLA even if they have less than 50 employees. 

Employee Eligibility Requirements 

  • Worked for at least 12 months with a covered employer
  • Worked for a covered employer for 1250 hours in 2 months
  • Work at a location with at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite

Can a Medical Leave of Absence be Paid? 

PTO Policy 

If an employer provides paid time off, they can run that concurrently with FMLA for it to be a paid medical leave of absence. 

Short Term Disability 

When an employee is struck by a qualifying event, they can file a claim with an insurance company to get the amount mentioned in the benefits. A short-term disability policy provides benefits for three to six months. 

Long Term Disability 

However, if an employee doesn’t recover by the end of six months and needs additional time off, then long term disability benefits may have to come into play to continue extending the benefits. 

Which Conditions Qualify for a Medical Leave of Absence?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has a broad definition for what qualifies for medical leave: any serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position. Employees coordinate with their healthcare providers to certify that the employees’ condition renders them unable to perform any one of the essential functions of their position or unable to work at all. 

What Are the Length and Pay Requirements for a Medical Leave of Absence? 

The FMLA requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of leave for medical purposes. As with other FMLA leave categories, the employer is not required to provide paid leave. In addition, employers who provide forms of paid leave (such as paid sick leave and paid vacation) may require employees to use their accrued leave as a part of the 12-week period.

Tracking Vacations and Approving Leaves with AB