Iowans who are concerned about managing both their job and attempts to expand their family should be aware of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Many will have a vague notion of the basics of FMLA, but will not realize that it extends beyond pregnancy and maternity leave to the prospective parent being granted time off and job protection if he or she is adopting a child. When there is an issue with this or concerns about it, a legal professional is vital to the case.
Under FMLA, the worker can take as much as 12 work weeks off within a 12-month period and not face dismissal or any other reprisal. An employee can use those 12 weeks if it is for the birth of a child and the parent would like to bond with the newborn within one year of birth. When using birth and bonding, it must be done as a single, continuous block of leave. The employer has the option of allowing the parent to take intermittent leave, but is not required to do so.
An employee who is adopting a child or taking a child into foster care can also take off 12 weeks to bond with the child. The employee can use FMLA prior to the child’s placement or adoption if it is necessary to take time off so the process can move forward. Examples of why the employee might need time off in such a situation include going to court, taking part in counseling, having a physical examination, or going to another country to complete the adoption. Just like pregnancy, the time off taken to bond with the child must be taken within a continuous block unless there is an agreement with the employer that it be taken intermittently. The employee can use FMLA within 12 months after placement.
People who are planning to have a child or bring a child into the home through adoption or foster care can use FMLA. If the employer does not allow the employee to use FMLA for these purposes or commits other FMLA violations, the employee has the right to complain about it and pursue compensation in a legal filing. A lawyer who is experienced in employment matters and FMLA can help.