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Are there any loopholes with regards to FMLA leave for an employee to care for terminally ill sibling, and/or their intermittant leave to support/care for school aged child through medical treatment of parent?

Unfortunately, no. Those are frequent concerns about FMLA that many employers raise. FMLA permits an employee to take time off for their own serious health condition. It also permits workers to take time off to care for a member of their immediate family with a serious health condition. For FMLA purposes, the immediate family is defined as father, mother, spouse, son or daughter. In most cases (unless the son or daughter is disabled) only minor children are included.

Unfortunately, FMLA does not provide for employees to take time off to care for an in-law, a grandparent, a sibling, an adult child who is not disabled. It also does not permit FMLA leave to care for healthy children. For example, a father or grandmother cannot take FMLA leave to care for children when the mother has cancer.

A new FMLA regulation implemented in 2008 does provide a loophole for military families. A military spouse or family member can take FMLA to care for children when the soldier is deployed on active duty. Also, an injured soldiers next of kin can take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave (more than twice the usual amount) to care for the soldier.

Hawaii and a few other states have family leave laws that apply to in-laws, grandparents, great-grandparents and domestic partners. A few states have laws that specifically permit parents or guardians to take time off for childrens school activities. Some employers permit workers to take an unpaid leave of absence, even though the employer is not legally obligated to.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 4th, 2008 at 8:05 am and is filed under
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9 Responses to “FMLA-sibling”

  1. FMLA law Family Medical Leave Act update, Latest cases on FMLA Law : FMLA Law News Update - Sept 5 Says:

    [...] FMLA-sibling By Rachel Those are frequent concerns about FMLA that many employers raise. FMLA permits an employee to take time off for their own serious health condition. It also permits workers to take time off to care for a member of their immediate family … Human Resource Blog – [...]

  2. Patty Freyhof Says:

    I think it is so unfair that we as workers cannot take legal time off to be at the bedside of a terminally ill sibling. My brother recently passed away from lung cancer. My sister and I were instrumental in his final care as he was in the hospital with comfort care which is like a hospice program. My work place of 35+ years – a prominent company best known for making butter – is hasseling me for taking 3 days off to be at his bedside while he died. This is almost a moral issue. What is it with these huge coporations that really aren’t owned by anyone?

  3. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Patty!
    We agree with you! Even though we usually take a very pro-employer view, any decent employer would give the worker several days of unpaid compassionate leave under these circumstances.
    Corporations are often soulless — but they are not the only offenders here. Both small and large business owners frequently act in this way.
    One option, of course, is to form or join a union.
    Looking in our crystal ball, we are going to predict that within the next 25 years, the federal government will pass laws requiring paid sick leave, time off to care for siblings, grandparents and in-laws, and meal breaks.
    The assumption in the past was that the marketplace would prevail, and employers would offer reasonable benefits to workers. It hasn’t worked out that way. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  4. William Says:

    Does Florida state have any loop hole or provision for a person to go and take care of a sick sibling in another country ?? thanks

  5. Caitlin Says:

    Hi William! Sorry, but no. Some employers offer additional leave, but there is no law that they must.~ Caitlin

  6. AMP Says:

    We hope to have this law amended in Pennsylvania. There is proposed legislation in the House now.

  7. Caitlin Says:

    Hi AMP! Yes, this issue will become an increasing problem as baby boomers continue to age, and many people who are single, divorced or widowed have no one to care for them. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  8. AMP Says:

    Hi Caitlyn, are you aware of any other states who have successfully passed adding siblings to their state family medical leave laws? We are still working on this bill in Pennsylvania. Thanks for your help!

  9. Caitlin Says:

    Hi AMP! If memory serves, the Hawaii family leave law included siblings from the beginning. It also includes in-laws and grandparents. However, we are not aware of any state that has changed an existing law to include siblings. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

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