Mental Health Leaves and Accommodations Requests

January 10, 2023
Inside HR
ADA & Accommodations
Read time: 2 mins

Heard it on the Hotline!

Q: Do employers have to accommodate requests for mental health leaves and accommodations?

A: With the increase of mental health issues on the rise, more employers are receiving requests for leave or accommodation for mental health conditions and are wondering if they need to provide accommodations for these requests. Like physical health conditions, mental health conditions may qualify an employee for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), or an accommodation under the ADA.

If an employee requests leave for a mental health condition, the employer should first determine if the employee is eligible for FMLA or other applicable and mandated state or local leave. If the employee is eligible for FMLA, the employer should provide the employee with a Notice of Eligibility & Rights and Responsibilities and include with it a request for the employee to obtain a completed Certification of a Health Care Provider. This medical certification document will help determine if the condition meets the definition of a serious health condition as defined by the FMLA. If the employee is eligible and the condition qualifies as a serious health condition, the leave will be protected under FMLA and must be designated as such.

If an employee requests an accommodation for a mental health condition, the employer can request supporting documentation to determine if their condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA. Once received, and if the mental health condition meets the definition of a disability under the ADA, the employer will need to engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine if accommodations can be made without presenting an undue hardship for the employer. Keep in mind, even though an employee may not be eligible for FMLA, they may be eligible for leave under the ADA. And it is possible that an employee may qualify and be eligible for FMLA and protections under the ADA concurrently.

Mental health situations should be treated very similarly to physical health situations. Employers should consider any available protections, including leaves and accommodations for which the employee is eligible.

If you have questions on FMLA or ADA protections and obligations, MRA’s 24/7 HR Hotline Advisors are here to help at 866-HR-Hotline (866.474.6854) or email [email protected].