From the Hotline: Bed Rest and FMLA Leave

Question: A Tennessee-based employee was just placed on bed rest during her pregnancy. How will this impact her Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave duration of 12 weeks? What if the child has additional medical needs after the birth?

Answer: If the employee has no other leave time available, it will be up to the employer to determine whether or not to grant additional time off.

Since the initial reason for leave is due to bed rest requirements, the employee may fall under protection by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), and there may be cause to explore if any work can be completed remotely as appropriate to defined work restrictions and job scope, thus also minimizing Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) taken in intermittent periods. The potential reason for any extended leave relates to the baby, and not to the employee’s own illness or disability; therefore she would not be covered by the ADA during that time and reasonable accommodation would no longer be required. However, full FMLA may then be taken or required to care for the serious illness and bonding of a new child.

Tennessee Specific Requirement

Additionally, if the employer has at least 100 or more full-time employees at one job site, Tennessee law requires them to allow up to four months of maternity leave. This leave covers pregnancy, childbirth, adoptions, and nursing and may be either paid or unpaid. In order to qualify, an employee must be employed for at least 12 months consecutively as a full-time employee. If the employee gives at least three months’ advance notice of leave and her intention to return to work full-time after the leave, an employer is required to restore the employee to her previous or a similar position when she returns to work. If an employee gives less than a three-month notice, but the reason for delayed notice is based on a medical emergency, reinstatement rights will not be lost.