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Highline College Human Resources:  Administrative Handbook

FMLA Health Condition Definitions

The United States Department of Labor Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations define a "serious health condition" as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves one or more of the reasons for absence listed under "Reason for Absence" in the following table.

Reason for Absence Definition Examples


Inpatient Care Any period of incapacity from a condition requiring inpatient care, including recovery from the condition.

  • Hospitalization
  •  Post surgery examinations
Incapacity for more than three consecutive days, including work and non-work days that includes: A condition requiring two or more treatments by a health care provider, or an ongoing regimen or treatment.

Examination to evaluate a condition, plus a course or treatment such as antibiotics or physical therapy.   
  Periodic treatment for a condition that may cause episodic incapacity.

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
Conditions that are chronic, long-term, or require multiple treatments

 Incapacity due to a condition which is not curable but which requires medical supervision.

  • Terminal illness
  •  Multiple sclerosis
   Absences to receive treatment for a chronic condition.

  • Kidney dialysis
Prenatal treatment and pregnancy Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care.
  • Prenatal doctor visits
  • Absences due to morning sickness
  •  Post Partum recovery


FMLA Definitions Related to Covered Service Members

Active Duty

Duty under a call or order to active duty under a provision of law referred to in section 101(a)(13) (B) of title 10, United States Code.

Contingency Operation means a military operation that

  1. is designated by the Secretary of Defense as an operation in which members of the armed forces are or may become involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities against an enemy of the United States or against an opposing military force; or
  2. results in the call or order to, or retention on, active duty of members of the uniformed services under section 688, 12301 (a), 12302, 12304, 12305, or 12406 of Title 10, chapter 15 of Title 10> Subtitle A>Part 1, or any other provision of law during a war or during a national emergency declared by the President or Congress.

Covered Service Member

A member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.

Outpatient Status

With respect to a covered service member, outpatient status means the status of a member of the Armed Forces assigned to; (A) a military medical treatment facility as an outpatient; or (B) a unit established for the purpose of providing command and control of members of the Armed Forces receiving medical care as outpatients.

Next of Kin

Used with respect to an individual, means the nearest blood relative of that individual.

Qualifying Exigency

The Secretary of the US Department of Labor will issue rules defining a "qualifying exigency". Until rules are issued, employers should consider that the US Congress intends that FMLA eligible family members be able to assist a covered service member who has been called to active duty in the armed services. This might be for such activities as helping to arrange for or temporarily provide childcare, assisting with a family business, completing the sale of personal property, etc.

Serious Injury or Illness

In the case of a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves means an injury or illness incurred in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member's office, grade, rank, or rating.

Family Care Act Health Condition Definitions

Nature of Absence Definition
For A Child: Health Condition Requiring Treatment or Supervision
  • Any medical condition requiring treatment or medication that the child cannot self administer;
  • Any medical or mental health condition that would endanger the child's safety or recovery without the presence of a parent or guardian; or
  • Any condition warranting treatment or preventive health care such as physical, dental, optical, or immunization services, when a parent must be present to authorize, and when sick leave may otherwise be used for the employee's preventive health care.

Means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either:

  1. Inpatient care including period of incapacity or subsequent treatment; or
  2.  Continuing treatment by a health care provider (HCP). This includes any one or more of the following:

a. period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive full calendar days and any subsequent treatment or incapacity that relates to the same condition that also involves:

1. Treatment two or more times within 30 days of the first day of incapacity (absent extenuating circumstances) by HCP etc, or
2. Treatment by HCP at least once and continuing treatment under the supervision of HCP.

Serious Health Condition

This requirement means an in person visit to a HCP. The first (or only) visit must occur within 7 days of the first day of incapacity.

  1. Incapacity due to pregnancy.
  2. Incapacity due to chronic SHC. Chronic SHC is one which:
  1. Requires periodic visits (at least twice per year) to HCP etc;
  2. Continues over extended period; and
  3. May cause episodic rather than continuing incapacity (asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc).
  1. Incapacity which is permanent or long term where treatment may not be effective. (Alzheimer's, severe stroke, terminal stages of a disease, etc.)
  2. Absence to receive multiple treatments for restorative surgery after accident, or for a condition that would result in incapacity for 3 consecutive full calendar days or more absent medical intervention (cancer, kidney disease, etc.)

Emergency Condition A health condition that is a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence, or set of circumstances related to one's health demanding immediate action, and is typically very short-term in nature.

Incapable of Self-care

The individual requires active assistance or supervision to provide daily self-care in several of the "activities of daily living" or instrumental activities of daily living.

  • Activities of daily living include adaptive activities such as caring appropriately for one's grooming and hygiene, bathing, dressing and eating.
  • Instrumental activities of daily living include cooking, cleaning, shopping, taking public transportation, paying bills, maintaining a residence, using telephones and directories, using a post office, etc.

Physical or Mental Disability A physical or mental impairment that limits one or more activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living.

Policies and Procedures

Table of Contents

Related information
  • Highline College Washington Administrative Code (WAC) WAC 1321

  • Community & Technical Colleges Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
    RCW 28B.50