Baby Bonding and FMLA

A Family Medical Leave Act
Elga Lejarza-Penn

We like to call it “Baby bonding” but the Family Leave Act refers to it as “Leave to bond with a newborn child or a child placed for adoption or foster care”. By now, you probably figured out that I have love to talk and write about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I conduct webinars and seminars on employment laws and these are my two favorite laws.

About a year ago while conducting a seminar on FMLA, I asked the participants what form they were using in their companies when employees request “baby bonding”. Usually the mothers are already out recovering from childbirth when they start baby bonding. My question was specifically in regards to the fathers. So a new father comes into the HR office and says “My wife just had a baby and I want to take FMLA”. In my previous companies I always used a Request for Leave Form and the employee would check off “baby bonding”. To my surprise I had several participants who responded “we use the Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition”. I don’t know what face I made… but I am sure it was not a pretty one because everyone asked me “is that wrong?” I said “It does not sound right, unless the baby was born with a serious health condition, but let me do some research tonight”. When I got to my hotel room, I started reading everything I could find about it under the department of labor website (www.dol.gov).

Well, there it was clear as water in Fact Sheet #28G, second paragraph in bold letters “The Employer may not request a certification for leave to bond with a newborn child or a child placed for adoption or foster care”; All you need is a simple request from the employee, preferably in writing.

My recommendation, create a “Request for Leave Form” if you are not using one. Yes, you still need to provide the employee the Eligibility Notice, Rights and Responsibilities Notice and the Designation Notice.

Under the FMLA, an employee can only take baby bonding in a “continuous basis” unless the employer agrees to allow “intermittent leave”. However if the parent is taking the leave to care for a newborn who was born with a serious health condition, then the parent can take the leave intermittently. This is the case when you will use the Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition.

Another interesting thing with baby bonding is that it is one of the FMLA qualifying reasons when eligible spouses who work for the same employer are limited to a combined total of 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period.

So many exceptions here and there with FMLA … tricky, tricky, don’t you love it?

For a comprehensive 2 day training join me in Greenville, SC for my 2-Day FMLA, ADA and PDA Certificate Program starting August 26, 2019.

If you are looking for a refresher on FMLA and ADA and/or you are preparing for your HR Certification exam check out my 6 hour recorded review of “FMLA and ADA Compliance Certificate Program Everything You Ever Wanted to Know”.

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