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Do Mental Health Conditions Qualify for FMLA?
Do Mental Health Conditions Qualify for FMLA?

Do Mental Health Conditions Qualify for FMLA?

Employees generally recognize that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides them with important protections in the face of their own serious health concerns or a serious health concern that one of their close relatives experiences. Many employees, however, aren’t sure whether FMLA covers mental health conditions, which can be debilitating. Fortunately, FMLA covers both physical and mental health concerns, and employees who experience either are well advised to seek the skilled legal guidance of an experienced California employment law attorney

Your Mental Health and the Workplace

Employees who suffer from mental health conditions are forced to carefully consider their needs and legal rights in relation to the stigma that tends to accompany mental illness. Stereotypes related to mental illness that are left unchecked in the workplace can lead to harmful discrimination. Employees who suffer from mental health issues are entitled to reasonable accommodations under the law and are protected from both discrimination and unfair practices at work.     

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) affords employees with disabilities, such as mental illnesses, considerable protections. To qualify, an employee must demonstrate they suffer from a condition that significantly impairs at least one primary life activity, such as having difficulty concentrating, regulating one’s emotions, or communicating. Further, the employee must demonstrate that they are capable of performing their job’s core duties – either with or without reasonable accommodations. 

An Extended Leave of Absence

A psychiatric concern can require extended time off the job, and FMLA guarantees employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in response to a mental health crisis of their own or of a close relative. FMLA ensures that the employee’s job – or a similar position – and benefits are protected throughout their leave. In order to qualify, the employee must have worked for their current employer for at least 12 months. 

Accommodations Employees Are Entitled To

While employees must be capable of performing the primary tasks required by their jobs, they’re entitled to any reasonable accommodations that can help them do so. Some examples of accommodations that are commonly used in relation to mental health issues include:

  • Allowing the employee a flexible work schedule or start time
  • Affording the employee a more flexible break schedule
  • Allowing the employee to work from home or to telecommute 
  • Allowing the employee to work in an area where there is less noise and fewer distractions
  • Providing the employee with clear written directions and task lists that spell their responsibilities out
  • Providing the employee with regular feedback that helps them stay on track 
  • Providing the employee with a job coach who helps them better maneuver their job requirements

An Experienced California Employment Law Attorney Is Standing by to Help

The seasoned California employment law attorneys at Minnis & Smallets dedicate their practice to fiercely protecting employee rights, including those related to mental health issues. Too many employees are afraid to share their mental health concerns due to fear of negative consequences on the job, but skilled legal guidance can help. Don’t put off contacting us for more information today.  

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