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Family Medical Leave Act Now Applies to Nonparents

Recently, the United States Department of Labor nodded its head to the fact that children are often taken care of by adults who may not be their biological parents. Now no matter their relation, caregivers who live in the same household as the child may take time off to care for a sick child or tend to an infant.

Before the Department of Labor's recent decision, someone taking time off under the Family Medical Leave Act had to be financially responsible for the child and also had to be the child's caretaker. Now, an adult can be either. This past summer, the deputy administrator for the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour division interpreted the words "son or daughter" to apply to a child who is under the care of an employee rather than a child who is under the care of an adult who had a legal obligation to provide care.

Some companies already had their own rules that allowed for a non-biological caretaker to take time off; however, the change in law reinforces those policies and expands the rights of employees who did not have the privilege before.

The United States Secretary of Labor gave remarks on the new interpretation by saying, "Children can [now] get the support and care they need from the people who love them and are responsible for them." Grandparents, aunts and uncles, same-sex partners and step-parents have expanded rights in their role as caregivers and can now take time off of work when needed to care for the children they love.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Family, Medical Leave Law Applies to Nonparents," Ann Belser, 10/11/10

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