The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) clearly states that eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for the placement of a foster child or adoption. However, taking this leave has the potential to become complicated. People often have questions about when the leave begins, and if they can take additional leave for the placement of a foster child or adoption. If you are going to adopt or foster a child and want to take FMLA leave to prepare for their arrival or bond with them, there are some important factors to consider.
Defining Adoption and Foster Care Under FMLA
Simply caring for a child is not always enough to qualify for FMLA leave. For example, if you cared for your nephew while his parents could not, but no legal arrangements were made, that is not considered adoption or foster care according to FMLA.
The Act defines adoption as a person assuming the role of a child’s parent and caring for them on a permanent and legal basis as though the child was their own. The Act does not consider the source of the adoption, such as if it was a licensed adoption agency or another source.
Foster care, which is separate from adoption, is also defined in the Act. Under FMLA, foster care is defined as providing 24-hour care for a child who is separated from biological parents or guardians. In order for a situation to be considered foster care, it also requires an agreement between the foster family and the state.
If the care of a child falls under either of these two definitions, you may be entitled to take FMLA leave for an adoption or foster care.
Unfortunately, not all employees are covered under FMLA. To take leave for an adoption or foster care, your company must be covered under the Act. All employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius are covered under FMLA.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have also worked for your company for at least 12 months, although those months do not need to be consecutive. Within that 12-month period, you must have also worked a minimum of 1,250 hours, which is approximately 24 hours a week.
Only if both you and your employer meet these eligibility requirements can you take FMLA leave for an adoption or foster care.
Denied FMLA Leave? Call Our Ohio Employment Lawyers
Even when employees are eligible for FMLA leave to adopt a child or for foster child placement, employers do not always want to uphold those rights. If you have been denied your rightful FMLA leave, contact our Columbus employment lawyers at Marshall & Forman, LLC. We will determine if you are eligible, and help you through the process when you have been wrongfully denied. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a meeting with one of our skilled attorneys.