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Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

Reasons for Leave - Family Member's Serious Health Condition

The FMLA allows leave for an eligible employee when the employee is needed to care for certain qualifying family members (child, spouse or parent) with a serious health condition. (The definition of son or daughter includes individuals for whom the employee stood or is standing “in loco parentis”. The definition of parent includes individuals who stood “in loco parentis” to the employee.)

  • "Needed to care for" encompasses both physical and psychological care. It includes, for example:
    • Providing care for a qualifying family member who, because of a serious health condition, is unable to care for his or her own basic medical, hygienic, nutritional or safety needs, or is unable to transport himself or herself to the doctor, etc.;
    • Providing psychological comfort and reassurance that would be beneficial to a child, spouse or parent with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care; or
    • Filling in for others who normally care for the family member or to make arrangements for changes in care (transfer to a nursing home, for example).
  • The employee need not be the only individual or family member available to care for the qualifying family member.

Note: The FMLA also allows leave for an eligible employee to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness. See Military Caregiver Leave for more information.

Who does the employee need to care for during the leave?

Return to Reasons for Leave.

For more information on this aspect of the FMLA, see the FMLA regulations: § 825.112, § 825.124