In an effort to help family caregivers who need time away from work to support an adult child with a disability, federal officials are working to inform caretakers of benefits available to them. Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched a webpage (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/family-caregiver) that provides caretakers of individuals with disabilities with information and resources regarding their rights to take necessary leave from their jobs under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Often, caretakers are unaware of their options for taking unpaid leave to care for a family member, including adult children with disabilities, without the risk of losing their job or health benefits. According to the online resource Disability Scoop, conditions including autism, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities virtually always qualify, but determining whether an employee is eligible for FMLA isn’t always clear.
FMLA leave is available to individuals who need to care for an adult child with a serious health condition who is incapable of self-care as a result of a mental or physical disability. Additionally, a child can include a biological, adopted, or foster child, as well as a stepchild or legal ward. It is also important to know that siblings, grandparents, and other relatives may qualify for leave in order to care for a person they serve in the role as a parent.
Inclusion in the workplace for individuals with disabilities and for those with family members with disabilities is important. Taryn M. Williams, assistant secretary for disability employment policy at the DOL, says, “Workers shouldn’t have to choose between their job and managing a serious health condition, nor should they have to choose between their job and caring for a loved one with a serious health condition.”