FMLA leave not available for care of siblings


One of your employees would like to take one month of leave to assist his sister after she returns home to recuperate from a serious injury. Does care of a sibling qualify as a reason to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?


Generally not. The FMLA requires employers with at least 50 workers within a 75-mile radius of the workplace to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of leave during any 12-month period for any of the following situations:

  • the birth or adoption of the employee's child, or placement in the employee's care of a foster child (there is no age limit on an adopted or foster child);
  • the serious illness of the employee's spouse, child, or parent; and
  • the employee's own disabling serious illness.

Keep in mind, however, that state leave laws may allow for FMLA-type leave for care of a close relative, such as a sibling, and an employer's leave policy may also provide for such leave, as long as the provision is applied uniformly for all eligible employees.

Also remember that, under the National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 110-181, January 28, 2008), an eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of a covered servicemember is entitled to a total of 26 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period to care for the servicemember. Next of kin would presumably include siblings. The servicemember leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule.

Cite: CCH Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 425, August 5, 2008.

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