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How does family and medical leave apply to special groups?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides much needed time off without having to worry about losing your job if you have medical needs to tend to or if you have to care for someone who has a medical issue.

While many people are familiar with the basics of this act, there are some special situations that they might be worried about.

Does the FMLA apply to same-sex families?

Because same-sex marriage is now legal in all states, FMLA coverage does apply to these relationships. Same-sex couples can use the leave to care for each other. A same-sex spouse can care for a stepchild as long as that person assumes the daily responsibilities that come with a child. These include financial support or caring for the child.

What provisions apply for a wounded service member?

If you are the spouse, parent, child or next-of-kin of a service member who is wounded, you are entitled to up to 26 weeks of unpaid time off per year. This is an increased term from the 12 weeks that other individuals get.

What is "year" or "12-month" period under FMLA?

It is up to your employer to determine how to apply these terms to your case. Employers can use a calendar year or a fixed 12-month period, such as one that start on your anniversary date with the company.

Can I split up my time off?

This depends on the circumstances of your case. One example is childbirth. If you have a baby and take six weeks off after the birth, you can then take the other six weeks of leave that you have under FMLA at some point before your child's first birthday.

Source: National Partnership for Women & Families, "Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)," accessed May 18, 2018

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