Karen O’Connor Quoted on Limitations of Spousal FMLA Leave

In The News

In an article in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) HR Daily Newsletter, Karen O’Connor shares her insight on the limits for an employee in using Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time off to care for an ill spouse and offers a suggestion for employers whose employees have stepped up to help a fellow employee on spousal care FMLA leave.

Employees who are eligible for FMLA leave may not realize that they can also take FMLA leave to care for a spouse with a qualifying serious health condition, and the onus is on HR and management to be on the lookout for employees for whom spousal FMLA leave would be of benefit.

However, veteran labor & employment attorney O’Connor stresses the need to draw a line between caring for a spouse when on leave and other responsibilities.

“While providing care and support to the spouse is a covered reason for leave under the FMLA, performing that spouse’s other duties at home is not,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor also offered a caution for employers who arrive at the belief that the job of the employee on leave is redundant because other employees fill in while the employee is out.

“Employees often will go the extra nine yards to help a co-worker in a difficult situation,” she said. “That doesn’t mean they can—or should have to—shoulder that load permanently.”

Read the full article here.

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