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Does FMLA cover spouses working for the same employer?

Iowa employers and employees should be aware of all aspects of the Family and Medical Leave Act. For covered workers, it provides unpaid leave for as much as 12 workweeks without the employee needing to fear for his or her job. While the basics of the law might be relatively easy to understand, there are subsets that people who fall into certain categories should know about. In some cases, both spouses will work for the same employer. This can affect their FMLA leave in a variety of ways. When there is a problem with spouses and FMLA, it can be the basis for a legal filing.

In certain circumstances, there is a limit to the amount of time spouses who work for the same employer can take. If a couple is married, is married based on common law or is in a same-sex marriage, they are considered spouses. For spouses who work for the same employer, there is a limit of a total of 12 workweeks leave in 12 months for the following FMLA-based reasons: a child was born and the parents are bonding with the infant; a child was placed with the couple to be adopted or to be in foster care and they would like to bond with the child; and if there is a parent who has a serious health issue who needs to be cared for.

These spouses can also receive 26 workweeks of combined leave within 12 months if they are caring for a covered service member who has a serious illness or injury provided the spouses are closely related to the service member. Spouses will not be limited in the amount of combined leave they can take in the following circumstances: to care for a spouse or a child with a serious health condition; if they have a serious health condition that renders them unable to perform the basics of the job; or if there is an urgent need for FMLA due to a close relative being in the military and on covered active duty.

It is not uncommon for spouses to be employed by the same employer. If they are eligible for FMLA, their status as spouses can make a difference with FMLA. When there is an issue with the employees getting the maximum amount of time off under FMLA or other problems, it is imperative to have legal assistance to get the matter corrected. A lawyer who understands FMLA and how to deal with all levels of FMLA violations can help.

Source: dol.gov, "Fact Sheet #28L: Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for Spouses Working for the Same Employer," accessed Jan. 8, 2018

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