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DOL Answers Questions on FMLA in Public Health Emergencies

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued questions and answers on the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the context of COVID-19 and other public health emergencies.

Under the FMLA, covered employers must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons, which may include the flu where complications arise. Employees on FMLA leave are entitled to the continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms as before they took leave.

The Q&As look at several key concerns.


  • provides leave for an employee's serious health condition or to care for a family member's serious health condition;
  • does not provide leave for avoiding the workplace out of fear of contracting a disease.
  • does not require leave for employees caring for dependents who have been dismissed from school or child care.
  • Employers requiring a doctor's note should consider that healthcare resources may be overwhelmed during a pandemic, making it difficult for employees to obtain appointments or verification that they are no longer contagious.

Many of the DOL's answers encourage employers to consider flexible leave policies for their employees. The Q&As also address the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act to employee leave issues.

We strongly recommend reading the DOL's questions and answers, and also checking with your employment law specialist.

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