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Using the Family and Medical Leave Act for Adoption
Brooke Randolph, LMHC
Did you know that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can be used for adoption? Passed in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave due to a serious health condition, to care for a sick family member, or to care for a new child. Although FMLA time off is unpaid, benefits can continue. To be eligible for FMLA, a worker must be employeed by a company that has at least 50 people, and the worker has to be employed for at least 12 months. FMLA time can be used intermitently and does not have to be 12 consecutive weeks. It is also important to check the specifics in your state laws. Some states have expanded FMLA to also cover the following:
- Connecticut organ or bone marrow donation are covered by FMLA.
- Maine organ donation, death of any family member who is in military service, and caring for a domestic partner and/or the children of a domestic partner are covered by FMLA. Employees are eligible if the company employs at least 15 workers (25 if city employee).
- Minnesota employees are eligible for parental leave if the company employs at least 21 workers.
- Oregon caring for a domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, or child with a non-serious illness is covered by FMLA.. Employees are eligible if the company employs at least 25 workers.
- Rhode Island caring for parent-in-law or domest partner of state employeesisre covered by FMLA.. Employees of a public company are eligible if the company employs at least 30 workers.
- Vermont caring for parent-in-law or civil union partner is covered by FMLA. Employees are eligible if the company employs at least 15 workers, and employees are eligible for parental leave if the company employs at least 10 workers.
- Washington all employers are required to provide insured parental leave.
- Wisconsin caring for parent-in-law is covered by FMLA.
- Washington DC caring for anyone related to the worker by blood, legal custody, or marriage; any person with whom the employee lives and has a committed relationship; child who lives with employee and for whom employee permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibility are all covered by FMLA. Employees are eligible if the company employs at least 20 workers.
Many adoptive parents will want to use vacation days, sick days, personal days, or other paid time off (PTO) to cover required travel; however, FMLA can provide for a time of adjustment once you return home or if country requirements or delays require a longer stay than available PTO. Whether you are considering adoption or already in the process, talk to your HR department about FMLA and other adoption benefits. Some companies will help you pay adoption costs and legal fees. If you submit a proposal, they may start offering such benefits of which you can take advantage. HR specialist Mary Kay Conley, CBP, CCP, suggested that future adoptive parents also look into EAP options through your company, which may help with counseling, education, child care, and more.
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