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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Family Medical Leave Act overlooks almost half of workforce

Employment laws and protections require flexibility in order to change with the constantly growing and evolving population of the United States. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was originally instituted in 1993. Since that time, the state of California has passed legislation to further define and augment the federal law in order to address current employment and family issues.

Since FMLA was passed, the makeup of the average family unit in the United States has changed drastically. A recent report has recommended that the term "family caregiver" should be redefined. Also, it recommends that family caregivers should receive the protected ability to care for family members, within reason, without fear of losing employment.

As an example, the article states that nearly 18 million in the United States are caring for a loved one who is 65 years or older. Currently, caregiving for the elderly by family members is not generally an excusable reason to take a day or even a few hours off of work. At this time, FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 unpaid weeks of, but it does not allow someone to take time off for relationships such as stepchildren, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc.

In difficult situations involving the Family Medical Leave Act, it may be beneficial to consult an attorney. The laws regarding time off from work in California are changing rapidly. An experienced employment law attorney will be able to evaluate a client's unique situation and advise him or her with the best legal options.

Source: californiahealthline.org, "Study: Family Caregivers Need Help, Too", Rachel Bluth, Sept. 15, 2016

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