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Unmarried parents: Can they take FMLA together?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. Two of our employees live together but are not married. They want to take FMLA leave at the same time after their child is born. Since they work in the same section, doing similar work, this would be a big problem. If they were married, we could make them share the 12 weeks. Can we force them to do the same even if they aren’t married? — A.Q., Iowa

A. That section of the FMLA applies only to “spouses.” If your state recognizes common law marriage and the relationship of these two employees meets your state’s standard, then you can treat the employees as spouses under the FMLA. Otherwise, each would be entitled to take 12 weeks of leave for the birth of the child. It may seem unfair to married employees, but it’s the law.

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