Philadelphia Employment Law News

How to Use FMLA Leave to Care for Parents and Parent-Like Figures

There may come a time when your aging parents or relatives become ill. You may need to take time off from work to care for them. But just because your loved one needs you, are you entitled to take FMLA leave to care for them?

The FMLA does entitle eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave to care for a "parent" with a serious health condition. But what about non-parents like your grandparents, aunts, or other family members who acted in place of your parents?

Congress does recognize the reality of a modern family: that someone other than your biological mom or dad may have raised you. As a result, eligible employees may take FMLA leave to care for someone who stood "in loco parentis" to the employee.

What Does In Loco Parentis Mean?

An individual who stood in loco parentis means that that person acted as your parent when you were a child and carried on most of the duties associated with parents such as providing financial support and personal care-taking.

You can have someone stand in loco parentis even if your biological parents were alive and present during your childhood. So long as the individual meets the above requirements, they may be considered in loco parentis.

But unless this in loco parentis relationship is established, you should know that you may not be able to take time off to care for a grandparent, aunt, or another non-covered relative with a serious health condition.

What Evidence Do I Have to Provide?

In general, you will only have to provide a simple statement that the individual acted as your parent as a child. You may want to include the name of the individual and a statement of the individual's in loco parentis relationship to you when you were a child.

To learn more about taking FMLA leave, check out FindLaw's Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act and click on the resources below.

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