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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) includes siblings for job-protected Leave

September 21st, 2015

Siblings are included in the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in some circumstances.

Littman Kroooks Special Needs PlanningThe FMLA, enacted in 1993, provides for eligible workers to take unpaid leave for up to 12 workweeks per year because of their own serious health condition or to care for their spouse, parent or child with a serious health condition. Siblings have never been explicitly included in these protections. However, the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, which implements the FMLA, has clarified that siblings are protected in certain cases.

The Department has clarified the definition of “son or daughter” in two ways that benefit families who work together to care for a family member with a disability:

First, the Department has clarified that “son or daughter” includes both children under the age of 18, and adult children who are incapable of self care because of a physical or mental disability.

Second, “son or daughter” has been clarified by the Department as including individuals for whom the worker seeking leave is acting “in loco parentis,” which means “in the place of a parent.” This may include siblings who have day-to-day responsibility for caring for the child or adult with a disability.

With these detailed updates from the Department of Labor, it is clear that otherwise-eligible employees who are siblings with the day-to-day responsibility of caring for a brother or sister, including an adult brother or sister incapable of self-care due to a disability, are protected under the FMLA when they must take leave from work to care for their sibling.


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Siblings Have a Unique Role in Families with Special Needs

July 16th, 2012

When a family has a child with a special need, that child understandably needs the support of the whole family, and much of the family’s resources – time, money, and emotional strength – are devoted to caring for their loved one with special needs.  When that child has a sibling, the parents also need to consider the sibling’s unique position.

Siblings of  children with special needs develop compassion and understanding beyond their years and they learn the importance of a truly loving, caring family.  Parents also know that caring for a child with special needs takes an emotional toll, not only on themselves, but on the child’s sibling as well.

In planning for the future, an important thing for parents to consider is that the sibling or siblings of their child with special needs will likely have a role as a caregiver, probably for longer than the parents themselves.  There are steps parents can take to help make that transition as smooth as possible.

Creating a special needs trust is an important way to protect your child’s financial future, by setting aside assets for enhancing quality of life, while protecting the right to public benefits.  A sibling is an ideal co-trustee or successor trustee for a special needs trust.

If your child will need a guardian once she reaches adulthood, it is important to establish guardianship and to plan for who will be her guardian after you pass away.

Parents should also consider drafting a letter of intent.  This document spells out in detail your wishes for the care of your child after you pass away, including medical care, your child’s unique likes and dislikes, and living arrangements.  This can be of great benefit to a sibling who will be a caregiver for a person with special needs.

For assistance with questions regarding your child’s special needs visit our website at

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This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. If you need legal advice concerning this or any other topic please contact our offices to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at 914-684-2100 or 212-490-2020.