Nontradtional Parenting Gets a Fist Bump from FMLA

Beth Dean 06.22.10
100 Paint Iphone

On June 22, 2010, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance on determining the parental relationship for taking time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a child’s serious health condition.

Recognizing that there are many forms of non-traditional parenting, the DOL has defined a parent for purposes of FMLA to be an employee who actually has day to day responsibility for caring for a child even if the employee does not have a biological or legal relationship to that child.

Examples of parents who are eligible to use FMLA to care for a child:

  • An employee who provides day to day care for his or her unmarried partner’s child, even if there is no legal guardianship or financial obligation.
  • An employee who will share in the raising of a child with the biological or adoptive parent.
  • An employee who will share equally in the raising of a child with a same-sex partner, even if there is no legal relationship to the child.
  • A grandparent who cares for the child because the parents are incapable of providing care.
  • Other parents in addition to the biological or legal parents. For example, when biological parents divorce and remarry, all four parties (biological and stepparents) will have equal rights to FMLA to care for the child who has a serious health condition.

Employees not included as a parent for FMLA purposes would be those who care for a child while the parents are on vacation.

The DOL has stated that to prove the employee’s relationship to the child, all that is needed is a simple statement asserting that the relationship exists.

FMLA requires companies with 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius to allow up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for their own or family member’s serious health condition (or up to 26 weeks to care for an injured service member. Not all companies are subject to the FMLA regulations.

For help in applying this interpretation to your workplace, modifying your company’s medical leave policy, or other human resources questions, please contact Nextep’s HR Department at hr@nextep.com or 888-811-5150.

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