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Qualifying Reasons for Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act

Qualifying Reasons for Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. See also Fact Sheet 28A: Employee Protections under the FMLA, and Fact Sheet 28M: The Military Family Leave Provisions under the FMLA.

Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period for any of the reasons listed below. See Fact Sheet 28: The Family and Medical Leave Act - Overview.

Read more from Fact Sheet #28F: Qualifying Reasons for Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act on dol.gov. 

The birth of a child and to bond with the newborn child within one year of birth.

An employee's entitlement to FMLA leave for birth and bonding expires 12 months after the date of birth. Both mothers and fathers have the same right to take FMLA leave for the birth of a child. Birth and bonding leave must be taken as a continuous block of leave unless the employer agrees to allow intermittent leave (e.g., allowing a parent to return to work on a part-time schedule for 10 weeks).

The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to bond with the newly placed child within one year of placement.

FMLA leave may be taken before the actual placement or adoption of a child if an absence from work is required for the placement for adoption or foster care to proceed. For example, the employee may be entitled to FMLA leave to attend counseling sessions, appear in court, consult with his or her attorney or the birth parent’s representative, submit to a physical examination, or travel to another country to complete an adoption before the actual date of placement. FMLA leave to bond with a child after placement must be taken as a continuous block of leave unless the employer agrees to allow intermittent leave. An employee’s entitlement to FMLA leave for the placement of a child for adoption or foster care expires 12 months after the placement.

A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job.

An employee is “unable to perform the functions of the position” where the health care provider finds that the employee

  • is unable to work at all, or
  • is unable to perform any one of the essential functions of the employee's position.

An employee who must be absent from work to receive medical treatment for a serious health condition is considered to be unable to perform the essential functions of the position during the absence for treatment.

To care for the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition.

An employee must be needed to provide care for his or her spouse, son, daughter, or parent because of the family member’s serious health condition in order for the employee to take FMLA leave. An employee may be needed to provide care to the family member, for example

  • when the family member is unable to care for his or her own medical, safety or other needs, because of the serious health condition or needs help in being transported to the doctor; or
  • to provide psychological comfort and reassurance to the family member with a serious health condition.

Read more about Qualifying Reasons for Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act on dol.gov.