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For family's sake, fathers should know their FMLA rights

Society puts a lot of stock in family. It's not surprising. Most experts will tell you that without parents and children, the values that serve as the foundation of social structures might fade away.

However, what constituted norms a few decades ago are not the same today. The concept of family being a mother, father and children is not as prevalent as it used to be. Same-gender parents are more common than ever. So are single-parent families. Amid social change, the law and employment worlds often lag behind. Attorneys skilled in family law know this and stand ready to help protect parent rights.

The right to put family first

One of the steps lawmakers in Congress have taken is to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act. Many argue that the FMLA falls far short of delivering the utmost value to families, but it is what we have right now. What it provides is 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible workers who need to take care of family concerns. Maybe it's to help usher new child into the world. Maybe it's to be there as a loved one recovers from illness or serious injury.

Granted, it is unpaid. It is something, however. Yet, according to some estimates, fewer than 22 percent of fathers exercise the rights available to them under FMLA. It's not clear why. On the chance it might be out of unawareness, here's our effort to change that situation.

What FMLA assures

If you work for a company that covered by FMLA and have worked a minimum amount of time, you can take up to 12 weeks off from work unpaid. If you are caring for a family member injured or made sick while in military service, you may be able to receive 26 weeks of leave. If properly requested and approved, your job is secure. During the time away, work-sponsored health insurance continues.

When FMLA applies

A qualifying parent can take leave under FMLA for:

  • A birth, adoption or reception of a foster child into the family
  • Caring for a seriously ill immediate family member
  • A personal serious illness

To take advantage of your rights, you have to know what they are. If you feel they have been improperly denied for any reason, contact an attorney to learn what options may be available to you.

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