Each year, roughly 20 million people in the United States take time off from work through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The guidelines that have been promulgated under this federal law are designed to help ensure that you can take off work to prepare, for example, for a new addition to your family, and during COVID, they have undergone some changes. Learning about these new rules may provide some advantages to you and your family.
Does the FMLA Apply to You?
The FMLA requires employers to give employees time off for a variety of reasons, including childbirth, ill family members, or certain qualifying family emergencies. Many families use FMLA leave to take some time off for childbirth, and it can also be used to take time off for adoption. This gives you valuable time to bond with your new family member, meet with your New Jersey adoption lawyer, and recover from stress or medical problems. When using the FMLA for adoption, you can take time off before the official adoption if you need to travel or be absent from work while preparing for the adoption.
Keep in mind that small businesses and part-time employers are usually exempt from FMLA rules. The laws will apply to any private company that has at least 50 workers or any government agency regardless of the number of employees. To qualify, you must be someone who has worked with the business for at least 12 months and has worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before your leave.
COVID Relief Package Allows for Paid Time Off for Adoption
The FMLA is a government law that requires most businesses to let employees take time off for medical care or the addition of a new child. This act originally just guaranteed that employees could take up to 12 weeks off without being fired because of their absence. Though it did not initially require employers to pay these employees, COVID changed many things. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) mandated that employers pay employees who use FMLA leave.
The new guidelines had employers pay up to 80 hours of sick or family leave at the employee’s regular pay rate. Then, parents could get paid at two-thirds of their usual rate for an additional 10 weeks of FMLA COVID leave. Employers who provided this paid time off could get all sorts of helpful tax credits. Ultimately, many new parents were able to get paid FMLA leave while dealing with adoption.
Employers Still Have an Incentive to Pay for Time Off After Guidelines End
This paid family leave technically expired on Dec. 31, 2020. However, new laws have extended this deadline. Your employer is not required to pay you during your 12 weeks of family leave, but they get benefits for doing so. Through Sept. 30, 2021, businesses get tax credits for paying employees who use FMLA leave. This means that companies can offer paid parental leave without having any financial downside.
The September deadline also applies to the COBRA health insurance law. This new act states that employees can continue using their workplace health insurance after leaving their job. Until Sept. 30, the COBRA stimulus will provide tax credits for employers in exchange for continuing health insurance for employees who leave the company. This extra assistance can be very helpful for families struggling with medical issues.
When you are in the middle of adopting a child, taking time off from work is just one of the many things that you will have to deal with. Cofsky & Zeidman can make things a lot easier for you. Our New Jersey adoption lawyer team is here to help you navigate all the complex regulations and paperwork associated with an adoption. With offices in Haddonfield, Woodbury, and Philadelphia, we serve New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Call 856-429-5005 or email us to schedule your consultation now.