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What Is in Loco Parentis Under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

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Iowa workers who are eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act are entitled to have as many as 12 workweeks off for a variety of personal reasons. Their jobs will be protected during this time. People who are eligible for FMLA should know the different categories under which they can use their rights to take this time off. One is when an employee has a “in loco parentis” relationship. People who meet the criteria of an in loco parentis relationship can take time off under FMLA to care for the person who was their “parent.” If they are eligible and their employer has not granted this time, they can pursue their rights under FMLA with help from an attorney.

If there is a relationship in which a person places themselves as a parent by fulfilling parental obligations to a child, it is known as in loco parentis. Under FMLA regulations, people who have daily responsibilities for the care and financial support of a child are considered to be in an in loco parentis relationship. There are, however, certain factors that are used to determine whether the person fits into this category. They are: the child’s age; how dependent the child was on the adult; if there was support and how much; and the extent of duties that are generally considered linked to parenthood.

If an employee was cared for by a person who was in loco parentis when the employee was a child, then he or she can take FMLA to care for that person. It is not required for there to be a biological or legal relationship for in loco parentis to be in effect and to warrant time off under FMLA. The employer can ask for documentation with in loco parentis just as it can for a biological parent.

Caring for a person who provided care to a worker as a child in loco parentis is sufficient to be given time off under FMLA. Those who are eligible to use FMLA should know how in loco parentis is assessed under the law. When there are FMLA violations, a lawyer can help a person who had an in loco parentis relationship get time off and use FMLA as needed if all the other requirements are met.

Source:, “Fact Sheet #28C: The definition of ‘parent’ as it applies to an individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee for FMLA ‘eldercare’ protections.,” accessed on March 13, 2018