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How FMLA Can Help You Serve as a Caregiver for Your Loved One

Apply for Intermittent FMLA and Utilize Respite Care Services When You Need Them

When you step up to take responsibility for the care of a loved one, it can be difficult to wear this hat along with all the others. Your job, marriage, children, home, and more all demand your care and attention. Although compassionately caring for a family member has its rich rewards, it is important to acknowledge the challenges this task poses.

It is also essential to have the resources you need so you can consistently provide excellent care. Caregivers may not know the help that is available to them while they work to ensure their family member stays healthy and safe. Family caregivers can get the respite they require to effectively take on their other responsibilities and can feel good about reaching out for help so they don’t have to shoulder all the burden.

Two solutions, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and respite care services, can be significant resources for caregivers who want the best for their loved one.

Find out below what conditions qualify for FMLA leave, how caregivers can use intermittent FMLA, and how to access outstanding respite care services.

Respite Care Services and FMLA Benefit Caregivers and Their Loved Ones

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and respite care services offer much-needed support to caregivers who have made a commitment to a loved one, but require additional resources to provide the very best care.

How FMLA Works

This federal legislation broke new ground to benefit American families. FMLA allows families to take time out from their careers for health-related issues and protects their job in the meantime.

FMLA provides:

  • An opportunity to care for a spouse (including common law marriage) or a parent (biological, adoptive, step, foster, or any other individual responsible for parenting the child) and still keep your job.
  • Protection from an employer that may threaten your job when you need to take time off to provide medical care for a family member.
  • Up to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid work weeks per year.
  • Intermittent FMLA leave, which means you can work a reduced schedule or take time off in blocks to care for a family member.

Applying for FMLA

Applying for FMLA involves doing your research and ensuring your employer is eligible to provide coverage, as some employers don’t provide it. Businesses must provide FMLA leave if they:

  • Have 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius
  • Those 50+ employees work for at least 20 weeks out of the year

You may also be eligible for your state’s family medical leave laws, so be sure to look into these rights as well.

Fill out necessary paperwork with your employer. Because employers have the right to contest your request, be sure you’ve read up on what conditions qualify for FMLA. The law includes care for a child, spouse, or parent with a health condition that prevents them from caring for themselves, including the need for transportation to medical appointments. It also covers family members who require regular psychological support.

You must include documentation from your loved one’s medical provider in your request for FMLA leave. This documentation should confirm that their condition qualifies for FMLA. You have 15 days to provide certification once you have applied for FMLA.

It is important to know that FMLA does not apply to care for in-laws. Also, remember that if your FMLA request extends beyond a year, you need to recertify with your employer.

For more information, visit this resource from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Respite Care Services May Be Your Solution

For some families, FMLA affords necessary time to spend caring for a loved one. However, this time does run out, as you are only granted 12 weeks per year. Fortunately, healthcare agencies exist to provide respite care services for family caregivers.

For some families, a much-needed break now and then is all caregivers need to rest, take care of their own responsibilities, or head back to work. Outstanding agencies will even offer increments of respite care from two hours to 24/7 coverage. A family can create a schedule that includes respite care services and intermittent FMLA to space out their medical leave and ensure consistent care for their loved one.

Respite care services – which include personal care, companionship, housekeeping, and more – are typically not covered by private insurance. However, if your family member is eligible for Medicaid, agency-directed in-home Medicaid services also offer respite care.

Ensure that your family member is eligible for in-home Medicaid services by contacting your state’s Department for Aging and Disability Services, Medicaid division, or Division of Social Services. If not, Private Duty Care can provide respite for caregivers.

Learn more about how respite care services in tandem with FMLA can benefit you and your family.

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