Mental Health Conditions and the FMLA

July 11, 2022

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

The text in this article is from the U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet # 280: Mental Health Conditions and the FMLA.

In May of this year, the Department of Labor updated the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to address mental health conditions. FMLA requires the employer to: Provide 12 work weeks of FMLA leave each year; continue an employee’s group health benefits, and restore the employee to the same or an identical position at the end of the leave period. FMLA leave is available to eligible employees if they have worked for the USPS at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the leave is taken, and work at a location where the employer employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. The USPS requires an employee to submit certifi cation from a health care provider to support the employee’s need for FMLA leave.

Leave for Mental Health Conditions under the FMLA

FMLA may be taken for an employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their essential job duties, or to care for a spouse, child, or parent because of a serious health condition. This includes: Conditions that incapacitate an individual for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment, either multiple appointments with a health care provider, including a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or clinical social worker, or a single appointment and follow-up care (e.g., prescription medication, outpatient rehabilitation counseling, or behavioral therapy); and Chronic conditions (e.g., anxiety, depression, or dissociative disorders) that cause occasional periods when an individual is incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year.

FMLA and Disability

FMLA uses the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to defi ne disability. According to the EEOC, conditions include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. Periodically conditions are considered disabilities if the condition would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

Military Caregiver Leave for Mental Health Conditions

FMLA provides up to 26 work weeks of military caregiver leave in a 12-month period to care for a covered service member and veterans with a serious injury or illness. Eligible employees may be the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of the service member. Current service members serious injury or illness either incurred in the line of duty that made the service member medically unfi t to perform the duties of their offi ce, grade, rank, or rating or may also result from the aggravation of a condition that existed before the member began service.

For a veteran, a serious injury or illness is one that made the veteran medically unfi t to perform their duties, or an injury or illness that qualifi es the veteran for certain benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs or substantially reduces the veteran’s ability to work. This includes injuries or illnesses that were incurred or aggravated during military service but that did not manifest until after the veteran left active duty. An employer may require that a request for military caregiver leave be supported by a certification.

For additional information, go to the apwu website at, see Our Union in blue and go to Departments, click on Industrial Relations, stroll down to Load More and click on to Family and Medical Leave Information, go down to A Guide to the Family & Medical Leave Act [PDF] download the booklet and the FMLA Forms.

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