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FMLA for Over-18 Relative Hinges on Self-Care Ability

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. Would FMLA leave apply to an employee who requests leave time to care for her daughter who is over age 21 and married? The daughter's illness required hospitalization, but her husband is overseas on active duty with the military. —D.S., Georgia

A. The FMLA defines “child” to include people under age 18 and those over 18 who are “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.” The term “incapable of self-care” means that the person needs daily assistance or supervision to care for herself in three or more “activities of daily living” (ADLs), or what are called “instrumental activities of daily living.” The ADL checklist includes personal grooming and hygiene, bathing, dressing and eating. Instrumental ADLs include cooking, cleaning, shopping, taking public transportation and paying bills.

So, if your employee's daughter qualifies as being “incapable of self-care” under these rules, the leave is covered under the FMLA. It's irrelevant that the daughter is married. And your employee's right to take leave to care for her daughter doesn't hinge on whether other family members are willing or able to provide the care.

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