For almost two decades, all eligible employees enjoyed Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits which allowed them to take unpaid but job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks a year to do the following:
- Care for a new child, whether for the birth of a son or daughter, or for the adoption or placement of a child in foster care
- Care for a seriously-ill family member (spouse, child or parent)
- Recover from a worker’s own serious illness
- Care for an injured family member in the service
These benefits however, have been denied for years to gay and lesbian workers with domestic partners and children. Fortunately, true to his word, President Barack Obama will soon expand FMLA benefits in order to include homosexual employees.
A new policy, reinterpreting the provisions of the FMLA, shall be issued by the Labor Department’s wage and hour division which will now allow employee in a same-sex relationship to qualify for leave benefits to care for sick or newborn, or adopted children of same-sex partners.
While Federal law does not recognize same-sex marriages, homosexual couples may still qualify for FMLA benefits when they act as parents, sharing the care and support of a child.
It is estimated by an advocacy group, Family Equality Council, that one million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families who are raising two million children stand to benefit from the reinterpretation of the FMLA.
Now that’s quite a fitting end to the celebration of June as “LGBT Pride Month”.