DOL Redefines Son and Daughter for FMLA

For more information on the new definition, please contact the Health and Human Resources Department at The Seltzer Group, located in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville! 888-366-1000


This Information and the FMLA apply only to these employers:

  • Public agencies, including local, state, and federal employers and local education agencies (schools); and
  • Private sector employers who had 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

DOL Redefines Son and Daughter for FMLA


The Department of Labor (DOL) has expanded the definition of “son and daughter” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The change is designed to ensure that an employee who assumes the day-to-day responsibility of caring for a child receives parental rights to family leave regardless of their legal or biological relationship.


Under FMLA, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a 12-month period to care for a son or daughter with a serious health condition. The law also permits eligible employees to take time off following the birth or placement for adoption or foster care of a child in order to care for that child.


FMLA Definition of Son and Daughter

The FMLA now defines a “son or daughter” as a, “biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis, who is under 18 years of age, or 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.” “In loco parentis” (in place of a parent) commonly refers to a person who lawfully assumes parental obligations without going through a legal adoption of a child.


Many children in the United States do not live in traditional families with their biological father and mother. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, stepparents, foster parents, guardians, domestic partners, older siblings, and family friends often provide daily care and/or financial support for a child. These individuals with parenting relationships may now be entitled to FMLA benefits from their employers.


What Employers Need to Do

Employers should communicate these changes to management and employees who are involved in administering FMLA benefits. These expanded leave rights could result in more employees taking leave, which will affect administration of group health plans. Employers should review and revise FMLA policies to include the new definition of “son and daughter,” if needed. Employers may require employees who request FMLA benefits to provide “reasonable documentation or a simple statement” that a family relationship exists when the employee has no legal or biological relationship to a child.


More information on the new definition is available on the DOL Wage and Hour Division website at

DOL Redefines Son and Daughter for FMLA was last modified: August 26th, 2014 by Sarah McGorry