HR Question of the Month

Concurrent or individual FMLA Leave for Spouses?

Question

We have two employees who are husband and wife. One is requesting FMLA due to needing surgery and recovery. The other spouse is requesting FMLA for the surgery and then shortly after to care for her and then intermittent leave to transport her for follow-up visits. Are their leaves handled as individual employees each eligible for the 12 weeks?

Response

As explained below, each employee is entitled to a full complement of FMLA leave if he or she is otherwise eligible.

While spouses who are eligible for FMLA leave and are employed by the same covered employer can be limited to a COMBINED total of 12 weeks of leave during any 12-month period when the leave is taken to bond with a newborn, adopted or foster care child, or to care for an employee's parent with a serious health condition, the same is not true when one spouse/employee has a serious health condition and the other is needed to provide him or her with care. See Leave for Pregnancy or Birth for more information.

Thus, if the married couple working for your organization both meet eligibility criteria under the Act, then each can take 12 weeks of leave individually for the respective occurrence (i.e., where "one is requesting FMLA due to needing surgery and recovery" and the "other spouse is requesting FMLA for the surgery and then shortly after to care for her and then intermittent leave to transport her for follow-up visits"). The employer should process the leave requests individually with appropriate documentation as the case may be (i.e., including the Certification of Healthcare Provider for Employee's Serious Health Condition and the Certification of Healthcare Provider for Family Member's Serious Health Condition for her spouse).

Want to know more? Click here to listen to our podcast on concurrent FMLA Leave.

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