July 23, 2019

Definition of “Son and Daughter” Now Clarified by FMLA

The U.S.Department of Labor has clarified the definition of “son and daughter” for purposes of interpreting the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Neither a legal nor biological relationship is required under the FMLA to demonstrate “parental rights” for a person to take work leave to care for a child.

The FMLA grants workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to care for themselves or a “loved one,” now expanded to include members of non-traditional families.

Of the more inclusive definition of “son and daughter,” Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis remarked:

No one who loves and nurtures a child day-in and day-out should be unable to care for that child when he or she falls ill. No one who steps in to parent a child when that child’s biological parents are absent or incapacitated should be denied leave by an employer because he or she is not the legal guardian. No one who intends to raise a child should be denied the opportunity to be present when that child is born simply because the state or an employer fails to recognize his or her relationship with the biological parent. These are just a few of many possible scenarios. The Labor Department’s action today sends a clear message to workers and employers alike: All families, including LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] families, are protected by the FMLA.

(image source: U.S. Department of Labor)

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