Our Texas firm has a long-time employee that recently had a grandchild. Her daughter needs extra help taking care of the grandchild. Is this employee covered under the FMLA if she wants to take a few weeks off to help take care of her grandchild?
No, probably not. Unfortunately, your employee does not qualify for leave based on the terms of the FMLA. The FMLA, or Family Medical Leave Act, guarantees that employees that have been with a company for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive) or that have worked 1,250 during the preceding 12 months, can take 12 weeks of paid or unpaid time off in order to take care of family members. However, a grandchild does not count as a family member that is covered.
The FMLA covers family members that are spouses, sons, daughters, and parents of the employee. It might seem that the daughter would constitute as a fair term of the coverage, but because the daughter is over the age of 18 (I’m assuming) and is capable of self care and seems to have no mental or physical disabilities, your employee cannot list her as a covered family member.
However, due to the pregnancy and birth, if the daughter can prove that she is temporarily disabled as a result of the birth, your employee may be able to take time off. The daughter and employee will have to produce medical paperwork that states that the daughter is unable to care for herself and her child. Your employee can then take up to 12 weeks off. Those 12 weeks may be either paid or unpaid, depending on the amount of time your employee has been with your company.
In order to qualify as a person that is incapable of self-care, the daughter will need to require active assistance to provide daily self-care in order to complete daily normal activities. Those activities may include, but are not limited to eating, dressing, cleaning, cooking, grooming, maintaining a residence, taking public transportation, and paying bills. Therefore, having a child does not necessarily qualify, but it might if she can produce the necessary paperwork to prove her case.
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