The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a new interpretation with regard to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It provided guidance on the definition of "son or daughter" under the FMLA as it applies to an individual 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability. As a result of the interpretation, it is likely that employers will receive more requests for leave from employees seeking to care for adult children.
Generally, an employee is not eligible for FMLA leave to care for an adult child. However, an employee may take FMLA leave to care for a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, who is 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability at the time that FMLA leave is to commence.
DOL adopted the new definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, noting that the definition provides broad coverage. Importantly, DOL also indicated that the disability of a son or daughter does not have to have occurred or been diagnosed prior to the age of 18. Rather, it is DOL's position that the onset of a disability may occur at any age for purposes of the definition of a "son or daughter" under the FMLA
Attached is a Client Alert - New DOL Interpretation on FMLA Leave.pdf with additional analysis from Angela Thomas on this issue. Please do not hesitate to contact her with any questions you may have.