Adoption and FMLA: FAQs
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted to provide employees with job-protected leave. The act allows employees unpaid leave to address personal medical issues or medical conditions of close family members. Protected leaves include those for pregnancy and paternity leave.
Despite protections provided by the FMLA, some employers fail to comply with the law. FMLA violations often go unreported because employees aren’t fully aware of their rights. One common area of confusion is adoptions. Employment law attorney Dan A. Atkerson answers frequently asked questions regarding adoption and FMLA, giving his clients in Allen, TX, Plano, TX, Frisco, TX, and surrounding areas an understanding of their right to job-protected leave when bonding with or caring for an adopted child.
Does FMLA Apply to Adoption?
FMLA specifically outlines leave and job protections for parents adopting or accepting a child for foster care. Leave can be taken to bond with the newly placed child or to care for an adopted or foster child with a serious health condition. Additionally, an employee can apply for FMLA leave before a child is placed or adopted if necessary for adoption-related appointments, such as:
- Attending counseling sessions
- Appearing in court
- Consulting with attorneys or doctors
- Traveling out of the country to complete an adoption
Do I Qualify for FMLA?
Employees can only take FMLA leave for adoption if they meet the eligibility requirements. To be eligible for leave under the FMLA, employees must:
- Work for an employer with 50 or more employees within 75 miles
- Have worked for the employer for 12 months (the 12 months are not required to be consecutive)
- Worked at least 1,250 hours within the 12 months prior to the start of the leave
How Much Time Do I Get Off Under the FMLA?
The FMLA entitles eligible employees to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave each fiscal year.
Do I Have to Take My Leave Right Away After an Adoption?
An employee does not have to use FMLA leave immediately after adopting a child. An employee’s entitlement to leave for adoption or foster care ends at the end of the 12-month period beginning on the date of child placement. This is beneficial because both parents are entitled to leave (provided each meets employee eligibility requirements under their employer), so they may take leave at separate times to extend the time a parent is at home with the child.
Do I Have to Use All My FMLA at Once?
An employee is not required to use their FMLA leave at once. Employees may request intermittent leave or ask to work a reduced schedule until their 12 weeks of leave have been used. However, an employer and employee must come to an agreement regarding intermittent leave or a reduced schedule.
What Can I Do If FMLA Leave is Denied or If I am Fired While On Leave?
As previously stated, many employers disregard FMLA laws. If an employer denies an eligible FMLA request or terminates or otherwise retaliates against an employee for taking eligible FMLA leave, they can be held liable for resulting damages. Employers who have been victims of FMLA violations should contact a knowledgeable FMLA attorney, such as Dan A. Atkerson.
Attorney Dan A. Atkerson’s law firm focuses on employment issues, including FMLA-related violations. If you have questions regarding FMLA protections or compensation for FMLA violations, we invite you to schedule a consultation at our law firm. To get in touch, send us a message online at your earliest convenience.