Why? Qualifying Reasons for Leave, the General Rule.

Over the last several posts we have spent a lot of time on the Who and even the What of the FMLA.  Now let’s get into Why.  Why can an employee take leave?  Pretty simple and straightforward to start with.

If you are a covered employer you have to grant leave to an eligible employee for 6 basic reasons:

(a) Circumstances qualifying for leave. Employers covered by FMLA are required to grant leave to eligible employees:

(1) For birth of a son or daughter, and to care for the newborn child (see §825.120);

(2) For placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care (see §825.121);

(3) To care for the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition (see §§825.113 and 825.122)

(4) Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s job (see §§825.113 and 825.123);

(5) Because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty status (see §§825.122 and 825.126); and

(6) To care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the covered servicemember. See §§825.122 and 825.127.

29 CFR §825.112(a).

That’s it.  If an eligible employee has a child and to care for that child; if an eligible employee adopts a child or a child is placed with them for foster care; if an eligible employee has a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition; if an eligible employee has a serious health condition; if an eligible employee’s spouse, child or parent is a member of the military on covered active duty (or is called to covered active duty) and has a qualifying exigency; or if an eligible employee needs to care for a covered service member who has a serious injury or illness (as defined in the Regs) and the employee is the spouse, child, parent or “next of kin” of the covered service member.

Simple.  And a couple more things to remember:  You have to apply these rights equally, for example, both fathers and mothers get time off to care for the birth of a child.

(b) Equal application. The right to take leave under FMLA applies equally to male and female employees. A father, as well as a mother, can take family leave for the birth, placement for adoption, or foster care of a child.

29 CFR §825.112(b).

Also, if an employee is not actively employed, say they are laid off, they are not eligible for leave until they are recalled.  But the minute they are recalled, they are entitled to FMLA if they otherwise are eligible and if the reason for the leave is a qualifying reason.

(c) Active employee. In situations where the employer/employee relationship has been interrupted, such as an employee who has been on layoff, the employee must be recalled or otherwise be re-employed before being eligible for FMLA leave. Under such circumstances, an eligible employee is immediately entitled to further FMLA leave for a qualifying reason.

29 CFR §825.112(c).