Earlier this month, the Department of Labor clarified the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include siblings among those eligible for job-protected leave.
Previously sibling caregivers were not explicitly covered in the law, creating barriers for families working together to support loved-ones with disabilities. In two updated Fact Sheets 28B and 28C and an FAQ, the department clarifies when siblings are eligible for unpaid, job-protected leave for their own health or to care for a family member.
Siblings are a valuable piece to many families’ support systems and with the expanded coverage of protected leave to siblings, families now have greater flexibility in caring for their loved-one with autism. Coverage was clarified to include instances when a sibling may be acting in loco parentis, or “in place of a parent” and according to the Department of Labor fact sheet, a sibling may be able to claim in loco parentis if he or she steps into care for an adult sibling who is “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability,” therefore becoming eligible for protected leave.
Autism Speaks focuses on the lifelong needs of people with autism. Expanding the FMLA’s definition to include siblings will allow families to assist and care for their family members without the fear of losing one’s job. For more detailed information, see the Sibling Leadership Network’s Fact Sheet on the FMLA and Siblings.
Autism Speaks and the Autistic Global Inititiative have also partnered with the Houlton Institute to make a first-of-its-kind online course for the Building Independence for Life Training (BILTTM). The course provides best and evidence-based practices for those who support the daily-living needs of transition-aged students, young adults, and adults with autism and related disabilities. Because it is online, the course is flexible and can meet many needs.
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