Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jul 02, 2010

New FMLA interpretation broadens definition of child


Employers may be surprised to hear that an employee could take leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for their domestic partners child, but thats exactly what the Department of Labor (DOL) said in a recent interpretation letter. Employees may take leave to care for a child if they stand in loco parentis, meaning in the place ofa parent, even if no biological or legal relationship to the child exists. Under FMLA regulations, an individual who provides a child with day-to-day care and financial support stands in loco parentis. The DOLs new interpretation letter says providing either day-to-day care or financial support is sufficient.

Tips: This interpretation letter could have broad implications, particularly for employees living with a domestic partner. If an employee is providing day-to-day care of a domestic partners child (e.g. cooking dinner, driving to school, etc.), the employee will be eligible to take FMLA leave to care for that child. Remember, its irrelevant whether the childs biological parents could provide care; if the employee stands in loco parentis, he or she is eligible to take FMLA leave if that child has a serious health condition.

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