FMLA leave to care for well child when school closed for suspected swine flu

Many school systems in our area are closed because a student may possibly have the swine flu. Some employees have asked if they can take FMLA leave to stay home with children who are so-far well but who may have been exposed.  They say this is a health issue, not a childcare issue.  Any ideas on this?


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  • FMLA covers "serious health conditions." If no symptoms exist can there be a serious health condition? From what I understand, the incubation period is 1 to 4 days before flu-like symptoms appear.  Nonetheless, I saw the answer to your question after reading a article on this site that linked to FAQs at - 

    "Covered employers must abide by the FMLA)as well as any applicable state FML laws. An employee who is sick, or whose family members are sick, may be
    entitled to leave under the FMLA.  The FMLA entitles eligible employees of
    covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a
    designated 12-month leave year for specified family and medical reasons which
    may include the flu where complications arise that create a “serious health
    condition” as defined by the FMLA.

    There is currently no federal law covering employees who take off from work
    to care for healthy children, and employers are not required by federal law to
    provide leave to employees caring for dependents that have been dismissed from
    school or child care.  However, given the potential for significant illness
    under some pandemic influenza scenarios, employers should review their leave
    policies to consider providing increased flexibility to their employees and
    their families.  Remember that federal law mandates that any flexible leave
    policies must be administered in a manner that does not discriminate against
    employees because of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age (40 and
    over), disability, or veteran status."




  • I agree with SFBay's analysis.  The only thing I would add is that it bears mentioning to be on the lookout for caregiver discrimination.



    This typically manifests itself as some form of sex discrimination but there can be a racial basis for this as well.

  • I saw on the morning new shows that the CDC may change its recommendations for school closings with suspected cases. 

  • Another post sitting in moderator heck with nothing controversial in it.  I'll see if this will get through.

    I agree with SFBay's analysis regarding FMLA.  I would keep an eye out for caregiver discrimination: check the EEOC's website for details.

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