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When you can take FMLA leave to care for a disabled adult child

If you're the parent of a disabled child -- even if that child is an adult -- you may be able to take time off work to care for that child under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, it's essential to know what conditions need to be met.

First, it's important to know that under FMLA regulations, adopted children, foster children and stepchildren are included in addition to biological children.

It's also essential to understand that to qualify for FMLA leave to care for a child over 18, that person must be "incapable of self-care" because of a physical or mental disability. Specifically, they must need supervision or assistance with at least three activities of daily living (ADLs). These include things like eating, bathing and dressing. You may also qualify for leave if you need to help them with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). These are activities like shopping, paying bills and maintaining a home.

The FMLA refers to both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the updated Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) when defining what constitutes a disability that "substantially limits" a person's "major life activities." It's worthwhile to familiarize yourself with both of these laws.

The FMLA also allows parents to take time off to care for children (including adult children) who have an illness or injury that qualifies as "serious health condition." However, the statutory tests are different. Therefore, it's important to know which category your child falls into.

Not all California employers fall under the mandate of the FMLA or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). If you need to take time off to care for a disabled or ill child or another family member, find out if you are covered by those laws in your workplace. If you believe that your employer isn't giving you the leave you're entitled to under the law or is discriminating against you for taking that leave, it's wise to seek guidance from an experienced attorney who can work to ensure that your rights are protected.

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