If an employee is out on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for a parent with a serious health condition and the parent dies, may the employer terminate the employee's FMLA leave?

Author: Melissa Burdorf, XpertHR Legal Editor

Yes. In general, bereavement for the death of a parent is not automatically covered by the FMLA. FMLA leave may be taken to care for a parent with a serious health condition, but generally does not apply to the period after the parent dies in which the employee may need to grieve or settle the parent's estate.

There are circumstances, however, where an employee may be eligible for FMLA leave; for example, the employee is suffering from a serious health condition, such as depression, as a result of the death of his or her parent. An employee may also be eligible for FMLA leave if the employee is caring for a relative who is suffering, physically or mentally, as a result of the death of the employee's parent.

If the employee suffers from a physical or mental disability as a result of the loss of a parent, he or she may qualify for leave as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An employer should also check any applicable workplace bereavement leave policy and any applicable state family and medical leave law(s).