The FMLA entitles an employee to 12 workweeks of leave for the birth or placement of a son or daughter, to bond with a newborn or newly placed son or daughter, or to care for a son or daughter with a serious health condition. The definition of “son or daughter” includes not only a biological or adopted child, but also a “foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.”
According to a Wage and Hour Administrator’s Interpretation, “an employee who will share equally in the raising of a child with the child’s biological parent would be entitled to leave for the child’s birth because he or she will stand in loco parentis to the child.” Either day-to-day care or financial support may establish an in loco parentis relationship where the employee intends to assume the responsibilities of a parent with regard to a child.
An employer with questions about whether an employee’s relationship to a child is covered under the FMLA may require the employee to provide reasonable documentation or a statement of the family relationship. A simple statement asserting that the requisite family relationship exists is all that is needed in situations such as in loco parentis where there is no legal or biological relationship.
Source: Wage and Hour Administrator’s Interpretation No. FMLA 2010-03, June 22, 2010.