Work/Life Squeeze: FMLA Caregiver Leaves

DMEC Staff@Work

Beware of Traps in Employee Caregiver Leaves

FMLA Caregiver LeavesBy Marti Cardi, JD

VP Product Compliance
Matrix Absence Management

Each type of employee-as-caregiver leave contains complexities that may trap the unwary employer, so it is imperative to understand the scope of these caregiver protections.


Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), fathers and other nonbirth parents have bonding-time rights equal to that of the birth mother. Trying to dissuade a father from taking bonding leave or outright denying such leave due to stereotypes about fatherhood or for any other reason can constitute interference with FMLA rights.

Under the FMLA and in most states, bonding leave applies equally to adoption placement and foster care, including time for necessary appointments and proceedings.

Parents are allowed to select the dates for bonding leave. Pressure from an employer to influence the timing of the leave could constitute interference. The FMLA allows an employer to deny intermittent bonding, but some state laws authorize intermittent bonding leave, such as California (two-week or longer increments, plus at least two incidents of shorter intermittent bonding) and New York (intermittent bonding in full-day increments).

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