Changes in caregiver trends and FMLA

As many Wisconsin families have both parents working to make ends meet, the need for one of them to take time off to care for a sick child could have an adverse employment effect. In other cases, a single-parent household could be headed by either a mother or a father, and that party might need to make use of FMLA rights at times based on a child’s medical needs. However, the increasing need for fathers to use this type of leave does not always equate to a cooperative response from an employer. Just over one-fourth of FMLA cases filed for problems related to child care are filed by men.

Statistics indicate that challenges over the Family and Medical Leave Act are also increasing for men who care for spouses or the elderly. Nearly 40 percent of filings over elder care involve men, and men file 55 percent of cases for spousal care. Although these statistics do not necessarily reflect the percentages of men handling these types of care in the population at large, experts note that men involved in such care of their loved ones are typically employed.

Both men and women can face challenges on the job when the need to care for a loved one arises. Discrimination could occur because an employer does not clearly understand the provisions of FMLA. In other cases, however, an employer might discriminate in spite of a clear understanding of the law.

People who have been adversely affected for attempting to use FMLA time might begin by discussing their situation with their human resources department before considering legal action. If a serious action such as termination is taken against an individual for using FMLA time, legal representation could be important in pursuing a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor.

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