Does Organ Donation Qualify as a Serious Health Condition Under the FMLA?

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter advising employers that employees who are otherwise in good health but choose to donate an organ solely to improve someone else’s health, may qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Private employers with 50 or more employees and all public-sector employers are covered by the FMLA, which provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. These reasons include the employee’s serious health condition or the serious health condition of the employee’s minor child, spouse, or parent.

Under the FMLA, a serious health condition generally means an illness or injury that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. Inpatient care means an overnight stay in a medical care facility, including any period of incapacity or any subsequent treatment in connection with inpatient care.

In its opinion letter, the DOL clarified that an organ donation might qualify as a serious health condition under the FMLA when it involves either inpatient care or continuing treatment. Organ donation that would require an overnight stay, or otherwise meet the definition as a serious health condition, would entitle an eligible employee to FMLA leave.