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Unmarried co-Workers, childbirth and FMLA leave

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. Two of our employees (they aren’t married) are having a child together. I know that spouses who are employed by the same company have to share the 12 weeks of FMLA leave following the birth of a child. How does it work for unmarried parents in a workplace?

While the regulations governing the FMLA do not speak precisely to this point, it has been interpreted that unmarried co-workers who have a child together are each entitled to 12 weeks of family leave following the birth of the child. In effect, they are not “penalized” in the same way that a married couple would be.

While the intent of the FMLA is clearly to limit parents who work together to a combined 12 weeks for family leave (as opposed to medical leave), the regulations do not address the situation of unmarried parents. The regulations are clear, however, that the restriction applies only to married couples, meaning that, as in the case of your workers, the father and the mother each could take 12 weeks to be with the child within the 12 months following birth.

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