What is FMLA?  Does it apply to living donors?


The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) helps people who work for companies with 50 or more employees. Under FMLA, employees may miss work for up to 90 days for reasons of personal or family health. Upon return from FMLA leave, you must be returned to your same or equivalent position. While on FMLA leave, you are entitled to maintain health benefits coverage for up to one year.

While the bill as originally written does not address living organ donation specifically, FMLA requires that leave be due to a “serious health condition.” A serious health condition is defined a condition that requires inpatient hospital care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. (For qualification of the meaning of “continuing treatment,” click here.) Most employers would agree that donating a kidney fits the description. The hitch--if an employer wants to find one—is more likely to be with the word “family,” if you are donating to a non-family recipient. However, many employers recognize the spirit in which the law was written and will extend FMLA benefits to living donors regardless of the nature of donor-recipient relationships. In addition, twenty states have passed legislation that makes it easier to become a living donor by easing work and financial concerns. (See Employee Benefits. )