Legal Protections Provided Covered Workers
The law protects your:
- Position: You are protected from being fired, and your employer must provide you with the same position or a nearly identical one when you are ready to return to work.
- Health Insurance: Your employer must maintain your health insurance coverage for the entire period of leave.
- Privacy: Any information that is used to prove your claims must be kept confidential by your employer. Your medical records may not be placed into personnel files.
The FMLA is often used by workers who have become physically injured or pregnant. You may wonder if you are still entitled to protected leave if the condition youre managing is depression.
In this guide, youll learn whether depression qualifies as a FMLA serious medical condition and what types of depression may be covered. Youll also learn what to do when your claim is denied and how an FMLA attorney may be able to help if your rights are violated and you sue your employer.
Develop A Plan For Taking Care Of Your Mental Health
Its important to make good use of your leave of absence for mental health. Ideally, you will use this time to develop healthy habits and cultivate effective coping mechanisms that will help you protect and maintain your mental health going forward. If youre taking a block of time off work, you may want to consider returning with a modified schedule that includes a shortened workweek or shorter hours. You might also explore other tools that will help you manage your mental health, such as taking regular breaks for meditation, working from home, or talking to your supervisor about modified responsibilities.
You should not treat a mental health leave of absence like a vacation. This is a dedicated period of time to focus on your health and wellness. Make the most of whats available to you so you can maximize your potential at work when you return.
If youre struggling with mental illness, speak to your employer and a mental health care provider to determine the best plan of action. Some companies do offer more flexibility for leave than others. Explore companies in your industry if youre looking for a better fit for your needs.
What If My Employer Denies My Request Or Fires Me
If your employer denies your request for leave under the FMLA, they must give you at least one valid reason. You may be able to appeal the denial or file another request to correct any mistakes.
If your employer denies a proper request, denies a request without reason, or retaliates against you in any way, you may be facingdisability discrimination.
You can file a complaint withthe U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and/or file a lawsuit against your employer.
If you want to file a lawsuit,Donati Law, PLLC can help. We only represent employees and have been serving hardworking people like you for more than 35 years.
Do not jeopardize your mental health for a job. Instead, call us at 209-5500 or contact us onlineto discuss your rights and legal options with our legal professionals.
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First Check In With How Youre Feeling
The demands of a busy or toxic workplace can tax your physical and emotional energy, particularly when ordinary life challenges come at you from other corners, too.
And relentless stress can set you on a quick path to burnout, leaving you so overwhelmed you may not even have the strength to consider how you feel, other than bad.
In order to take stress leave, though, youll typically need to discuss your symptoms with a mental health professional or healthcare provider, as well as your human resources department.
That means youll need to give a clear explanation of your symptoms and illustrate the ways they affect your daily life just as you might describe symptoms of a physical illness.
Taking some quiet time alone can give you the chance to perform a quick self-evaluation. Grab a pen and some paper to take a few notes, which you can share with your care provider.
Consider the following:
- nausea or digestive problems
These symptoms can have a far-reaching impact. If you have trouble sleeping, youll probably feel tired during the day. You might struggle to focus or notice you make a lot of mistakes.
The tension and pain accompanying stress can affect your energy level, leaving you with little motivation for physical activity. Reflecting on the distress keeping you from your usual activities can eventually trigger feelings of depression and hopelessness.
Who Qualifies For Mental Health Leave Under The Fmla
Even though the FMLA has an expansive amount of coverage, there are still criteria that an employee typically has to meet in order to qualify for FMLA. This generally includes:
- Working for companies with 50 or more employees, or working for public agencies, including federal and state employers.
- Having worked for the same employer for at least 12 months.
- Having worked at least 1,250 hours with the same employer during the 12 months before the requested leave.
- Having worked at a location with at least 50 employees or a location which has 50 employees within 75 miles.
As you can see, employees of smaller companies may not have access to FMLA for mental health concerns or any other reason although individual employers can independently choose to give a leave of absence. It’s also worth noting that individual states can create their own laws, in addition to the FMLA, that may provide mental health leave for employees.
But, meeting the requirements listed above is just the beginning. An employee seeking FMLA leave for a mental health concern may also need to satisfy other conditions, including possibly having to provide their employer with advance notice. In addition, an employer may ask for documentation from a therapist, doctor, or other medical provider showing that the employee is suffering from a mental health condition.
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Can You Get Fmla For Stress
The Federal Medical Leave Act provides protected leave for mental health concerns considered a serious medical condition. The family medical leave program is often used for maternity leave or when you need to take a medical absence from work. Taking a leave of absence for mental health concerns is common. FMLA leave for mental health is possible for situations such as stress leave or other related conditions, but there are guidelines to meet to qualify. Some out on stress leave may consider learning about home jobs available to earn income. Keep in mind, that you may or may not be allowed to work from home depending on the rules and regulations of your employer and your state.
Interaction Between Fmla And Mental Health Conditions
by WLG | Jun 1, 2022 |
The Department of Labor has released Fact Sheet 280 and a series of FAQs with regards to the interplay between the FMLA and mental health conditions.
Law. Under the FMLA, certain employers must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period: for their own serious health condition to care for the serious health condition of a spouse, child under 18, or parent for childbirth, adoption or placement of a child and for military caregiver leave and military exigency leave. A parent may also use FMLA leave to care for a child 18 years of age or older who is in need of care if the child is incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.
The FMLA defines a serious health condition as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider. A serious health condition can include a mental health condition.
Fact Sheet. The Fact Sheet states that some mental health conditions may satisfy both the definition of serious health condition and the definition of disability, even though the statutory tests are different.
A serious mental health condition that requires continuing treatment by a health care provider includes:
Fact Sheet 280 can be found at: www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/28o-mental-health.
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Fmla Options For Stress
In some cases, FMLA can cover stress, stress-related conditions, major life activities, and other mental health issues. FMLA can protect those going through extreme stress or mental illness if symptoms impact their ability to function, providing critical health benefits. Just as FMLA cannot protect someone who is experiencing the common cold, it cannot be used for mild to moderate cases of anxiety, depression, stress, or other psychological issues. You must show that your mental health symptoms prevent you from working.
What Is The Family And Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA is a federal law that was enacted in 1993. This law allows eligible workers who work for covered employers to take up to 12 weeks off from work each year. Leave under the act is unpaid and can only be used for qualifying family or medical reasons, including the following:
- To care for the serious health condition of the employee
- To care for an immediate family members health condition
- To bond with a newly born, adopted, or foster care child
- An emergency related to the workers child, spouse, or parent who is on active duty in the military
Before you can take FMLA leave, you must meet the following criteria:
- Work for an employer that has at least 50 employees working within 75 miles of each other
- Work at least 20 weeks during the current or previous year
- Work for your employer for 12 or more months
- Work at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the requested leave
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Are You Eligible To Take Fmla Leave
To be eligible to take leave under the FMLA, an employer must:
- Work for an employer that has 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or prior calendar year, as well as federal, state and local employers.
- Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months. These 12 months do not need to be consecutive.
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the prior 12 months before taking FMLA leave.
Coming Back After Stress Leave
When you return to work, its important to know that you dont owe anyone an explanation for where you were and why you were out. Your supervisor will know some information, however they are required to keep that confidential. Make sure you can set clear structures and boundaries with work and your supervisor/peers to ensure your mental health stays regulated, and consider talking to someone while you find your way back into the working world. You are not alone and a lot of people go through things that require them to need time away from work. Having the right support system, including a supportive work environment, is part of the solution.
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Can You Use Short
If your psychiatric issue rises to the level of a disability covered by your short-term disability insurance, its possible you could use that insurance to take the time off you need. In general, short term disability kicks in after 14 days and requires a doctors attestation and a good bit of paperwork.
Short term disability can be managed by the state or private insurance carriers and typically provides you with payments equal to about 60% of your regular salary. The specifics vary. You will need to check with your manager or HR rep to determine whether your companys short term disability insurance covers mental health, what the requirements are, and how long it paysup to six months is common.
Determining Your Eligibility For Fmla
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Make An Appointment With Your Healthcare Provider
To begin, youll want to meet with your healthcare provider, often a psychologist or a psychiatrist, who will create a treatment plan for depression. Your workplace may require documentation of your health condition and information about how long you will be out in that case, your healthcare provider will produce this paperwork to submit. They may also offer advice as you navigate the weeks leading up to your time off work.
Keep in mind that an employer can request more information about your health condition, including asking for a second medical opinion. If they do request this opinion, it can only be to validate your medical certificate. Your employer must also pay for the additional opinion.
How Violations Are Handled
It is unlawful for an employer to deny an entitled employee an FMLA leave or to discriminate against or discharge an employee for exercising his or her rights under the FMLA.
The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor investigates employer violations of the FMLA. This division will contact the employer for resolution of the issues but may also bring court action against an employer for noncompliance.
In addition, an eligible employee may initiate a civil lawsuit against his or her covered employer who has violated the terms of the FMLA.
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I Use Fmla Leave Once A Month For Appointments With A Mental Health Therapist Is My Employer Required To Keep My Mental Health Condition Confidential
Yes. The FMLA requires your employer to keep your medical records confidential and maintain them in separate files from more routine personnel files. Your employer must also maintain your records with confidentiality as required under other laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act , where those laws also apply.
However, your supervisor and managers may be informed that you need to be away from work, or if you have work duty restrictions or need accommodations.
The FMLA prohibits your employer from interfering with or restraining your right to take FMLA leave. Your employer is prohibited, for example, from sharing or threatening to share information about your health to discourage you or your coworkers from using FMLA leave.
Do I Have The Right To An Accommodation At Work For Postpartum Depression
- Under the Americans with Disabilities Act , you may have the right to reasonable accommodation at work, such as a modified work schedule, transfer to a less strenuous position, or work from home, for postpartum depression. To be considered a qualifying disability under the ADA, your postpartum depression must substantially limit a major life activity, such as sleeping, eating, concentrating, or working. If your postpartum depression meets the ADA definition, then you are entitled to a reasonable accommodation, unless providing an accommodation would create an undue hardship for your employer. Learn more here.
- Am I covered? You are covered if you work for an employer with 15 or more employees.
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Fmla Leave For Depression Stress Or Anxiety
To qualify for the FMLA leave, you must be suffering from a serious medical condition. Not all depression, stress, or anxiety causes an FMLA-eligible condition. But, if your doctor agrees that you are suffering from a severe condition and that you are unable to work during this time period, you will be eligible for protected leave.
The FMLA defines a serious health condition as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves: inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider.
Depression, stress, and anxiety may qualify as a serious health condition under the FMLA. A simple diagnosis of depression or anxiety may not be enough to qualify for FMLA. To be a serious health condition under the FMLA, your depression must incapacitate you or prevent you from being able to work.