Is an employee entitled to take FMLA leave to care for her hospitalized adult child? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Is an employee entitled to take FMLA leave to care for her hospitalized adult child?

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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.

A.  Generally, FMLA leave is only permitted to care for a child who is under 18 years of age. However, FMLA leave is also permitted to care for a child who is over 18 years of age if the child is “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.”

Under the FMLA regulations, “incapable of self-care” means the individual requires active assistance or supervision to provide daily self-care in three or more of the “activities of daily living” (such as caring appropriately for one’s grooming and hygiene, bathing, dressing and eating) or “instrumental activities of daily living” (such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, taking public transportation, paying bills, maintaining a residence, using telephones and directories or using a post office).

“Physical or mental disability” means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual (i.e., disabled as defined by the ADA). An adult child’s impairment need not be “long lasting;” a “temporary, non-chronic impairment” can constitute a disability that triggers FMLA leave.

If an adult child is hospitalized, she likely meets the definition of “incapable of self-care.”

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