The Family and Medical Leave Act generally requires companies in Pennsylvania and across the country with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected time off each year to workers when they or a family member are diagnosed with a serious health condition. However, employers are sometimes uncertain as to what types of illnesses or injuries are considered serious enough to be covered by the 1993 law. For the terms of the FMLA to apply, a physical or mental condition, injury or incapacity must meet one or more of six criteria.
A condition is considered serious enough to be covered by the Family Medical Leave Act when it requires an overnight stay in a hospital or hospice. Conditions that cause incapacity lasting three or more days are also covered provided that the individual concerned has visited a physician on two or more occasions or is undergoing a continuing course of treatment. Pregnancy is also covered by the law.
Chronic conditions that do not cause incapacity lasting three or more days are covered as long as they are being treated periodically. The law defines periodic treatment as two or more visits to a doctor each year. Long-term conditions that do not respond to treatment fall under the law providing that treatment is continuing, and workers receiving multiple treatments after developing an illness or suffering an injury are able to take job-protected time off.
While the provisions of the FMLA are quite clear, employers may still refuse to grant covered leave or terminate the health insurance coverage of workers who have taken permitted time off. These types of actions are illegal, and an employee who has been the target of such behavior may want to have legal assistance in obtaining appropriate recourse.