Who Is A Family Member Under The Family Medical Leave Act

Jan 6, 2019

Understanding the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with job-protected unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons. The aim of FMLA is to balance the needs of work and family by allowing employees to take time off when they need it the most. Under FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to provide care for a family member with a serious health condition or for their own serious health condition.

Defining a Family Member under FMLA

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, the term family member is broadly defined to include:

  • Spouse: A legal spouse recognized under state law
  • Child: A biological, adopted, foster child, stepchild, or a legal ward
  • Parent: A biological, foster, stepparent, adoptive parent, or someone who stood in loco parentis
  • Sibling: A biological, half, or stepbrother/sister
  • Grandparent/Grandchild: A biological or grandparent-grandchild relationship

Additional Considerations

When determining if an individual falls under the definition of a family member for FMLA purposes, it is important to note that:

  • Same-sex spouses and common-law marriages are recognized
  • Adult children, regardless of disability or dependency status, are eligible family members
  • Under specific circumstances, an individual who is or becomes responsible for the child's welfare and day-to-day care may qualify as a family member


Understanding who qualifies as a family member under the Family Medical Leave Act is crucial for both employees seeking leave and employers in ensuring compliance with FMLA regulations. To navigate the complex legal landscape surrounding FMLA, it is recommended to consult qualified legal professionals who specialize in employment and labor laws.

For comprehensive legal reporting and expert assistance with documenting FMLA-related cases, trust Baytowne Reporting, a leading provider in the field of court reporting services. Contact us today for more information.