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Must we give FMLA leave for grandchild’s birth?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. One of our employees has a 16-year-old daughter who lives with her and is going to have a baby. The grandmother-to-be wants 12 weeks of FMLA leave to care for the daughter and bond with the grandchild. Is FMLA leave available for her? She says she will be co-parenting the infant. Is she basically in loco parentis to the baby and, therefore, eligible? — T.K., Texas

A. If she is truly in loco parentis (that is, assuming the obligations of a parent without the legal formalities of an adoption), then, yes, she would be entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave to bond with the grandchild. If you question the employee’s intentions, you may require that she provide reasonable documentation or a statement of the family relationship.

Because whether the grandmother is acting as a substitute parent is a fact-driven matter, you may want to contact your attorney and get his or her opinion on whether FMLA child-rearing leave is available under the specific circumstances. (For more on the FMLA’s definition of “son or daughter,” see the June 22 alert at www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/whd.)

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