“Families today come in many forms, with grandparents, aunts, uncles and domestic partners sometimes acting as parents. That is why the Administrator’s Interpretation issued today by the U.S. Department of Labor is a positive and badly needed step in clarifying the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) so that it better meets the needs of today’s families.
Seventeen years after it was enacted, and with families struggling through a punishing recession, it is time to make sure that the FMLA can be used in ways that reflect the realities of our time. This is a very welcome step forward that will allow more workers to access the job-protected leave the FMLA provides.
The new Administrator’s Interpretation Letter also will allow workers to use FMLA leave to care for a person who acted as the worker’s parent if that person becomes ill, frail or elderly. This too is welcome, especially with our aging population causing eldercare responsibilities to grow.
We ask the Obama Administration to make this only a first step. We urge the Labor Department to examine the critical role leave policies play for working families and to revisit its administrative and regulatory guidance under the law to ensure that the FMLA best meets the needs of today’s families and workplaces.”