DoL Includes Non-Traditional Families in FMLA Interpretation

 June 23, 2010 ( - The U.S. Department of Labor has clarified the definition of "son and daughter" under the Family and Medical Leave Act to ensure that an employee who assumes the role of caring for a child receives parental rights to family leave regardless of the legal or biological relationship.  

 The administrator interpretation issued by Nancy J. Leppink, deputy administrator of the department’s Wage and Hour Division, clarifies that FMLA provisions extend to the various parenting relationships that exist in today’s world.  

 According to a news release, examples in the interpretation include an uncle who is caring for his young niece and nephew when their single parent has been called to active military duty, a grandmother who assumes responsibility for her sick grandchild when her own child is debilitated, and an employee who intends to share in the parenting of a child with his or her same-sex partner.  

 “This is a critical step in ensuring that children have the support and care they need from the persons who have assumed that responsibility,” said Leppink. “Nothing in the statute or regulations suggests that we should restrict the rights of various individuals who take on that very important role.”  

 More information about the FMLA and the DoL’s interpretation is at