As parents age, their adult children may need to take time away from work to care for them. The decision to do so may require an employee to choose between their career and their family.
The Family Medical Leave Act, FMLA, provides a solution because it allows qualifying employees to take a leave of absence without losing their job.
An employee does not have to take 12 weeks off in one block
Employees who work for a company that qualifies for FMLA have a total of 12 weeks of unpaid time off per 12 months. The time away from work does not need to occur during one block of time. Employees can take a week, a month, or any number of days off at a time. Some companies may offer employees the opportunity to cut back their hours and spread the time off out over the year.
FMLA only covers immediate family members
Regardless of how close an employee is to their family members, they cannot use FMLA to care for anyone they please. Employees can only use FMLA to care for a son, daughter, parent or spouse. A parent can be biological, step, adoptive, foster, or a person who acted in loco parentis for the employee as a child. However, this means that taking time off to care for siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or in-laws does not qualify for FMLA protection.
Knowing that FMLA is available can make it easier for employees to take time off work to care for ailing family members without worrying about losing their job.