Q: An employee has advised that she needs to take leave for cosmetic surgery. Do I have to grant the leave?

A: It depends on the procedure.

If the procedure is related to a medical condition that otherwise qualifies as a "serious health condition" under the FMLA, then the answer is definitely yes. So, for example, reconstructive surgery following a serious injury or illness would very likely qualify for FMLA leave.

The rules do provide that "conditions for which cosmetic treatments are administered (such as most treatments for acne or plastic surgery) are not 'serious health conditions' unless inpatient hospital care is required or unless complications develop." Thus, FMLA leave is generally not available for purely outpatient cosmetic procedures. However, the rule suggests that FMLA leave would be available for a purely cosmetic procedure if the procedure involves an overnight stay in the hospital or results in complications that otherwise meet the definition of "serious health condition."