The Family Medical Leave Act and Adoption

Family Medical Leave Act

For adoptive families, maternity and paternity leave may be a concern even before their child is born. Many adoptive parents are required to stay in the state where their child was born for a period of time to comply with Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. And of course, there is the hope that new parents will have maternity and paternity leave to care for their adopted child once the family is home. While most employers recognize adoption maternity leave, just as they would for any pregnant employee, there is a federal law which helps ensure that families are able to enjoy their first weeks with their adopted child, away from the workplace. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles adoptive parents to take unpaid job-protected leave to care for their new child provided that they are eligible employees working for covered employers.


Under the FMLA, individuals are eligible employees if:

  • They work for a covered employer;

  • They have worked for the employer for at least 12 months;

  • They have at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12 month period immediately preceding the leave; and

  • They work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees.


Under the FMLA, covered employers are:

  • Private-sector employers with 50 or more employees in 20 or more work weeks in the current or preceding calendar year;

  • Public agencies regardless of the number of employees it employs; or

  • Public or private elementary or secondary schools, regardless of the number of employees it employs.


Newly adoptive parents may take up to 12 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period. The leave is unpaid, job-protected and employers are required to restore employees to their original jobs or an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Health insurance coverage continues without change or interruption during leave.

For more information about the FMLA please visit the United States Department of Labor website or call 1-866-487-9343.