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Does an employee's depression qualify for FLMA?

With actor/comedian Robin Williams' suicide reportedly due to depression, more attention has been shed on this very real mental disorder. Depression can affect all aspects of a person's life, including their work and career. Some who suffer from depression do so silently. Others may approach their employers for time off through the Family and Medical Leave Act.

According to a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Labor on FMLA, the following is necessary for employees to be eligible for this time off.

-- Be an eligible employee.

-- Worked for the employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours.

-- Is one of at least 50 employees for the company.

The FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a number of reasons, including for the treatment of the employee's serious health condition. While the employer may want to see certification from the employee's physician to corroborate the need for leave under the FLMA, the leave cannot be denied for an eligible employee who meets the entitlement requirements.

Employers who see signs of possible depression in an employee, such as absenteeism, lack of cooperation and/or irritability, may want to speak with the employee about the company's employee assistance program. If such a program does not exist in the company, then the employer may want to suggest that the employee seek help.

There are treatments available for depression that can help those who suffer from this condition; however, employers also need to understand this condition and provide assistance, including leave under the FLMA.

Source: The Bakersfield Californian, "ROBIN PAGGI: Managing depression in the workplace" Robin Paggi, Aug. 13, 2014

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