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Taking FMLA for an Adoption

Bookmark and Share The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles employees to take unpaid time off work for certain family events, including adoption. It protects your job and ensures you receive the same health benefits during your leave as you would be entitled to if you were still at work. Understand your FMLA rights as you welcome a new child into your family.

Adoption is Covered by FMLA

Most people think of FMLA when they think of having a biological child, but it is also available when parents adopt a child. Before the actual adoption or child placement in your home, use FMLA when your presence is needed for the adoption to proceed. Examples include:

  • Counseling sessions

  • Required physical exams

  • Consultations with attorneys, social workers, the adoption agency and/or the child's birth parent's representatives

  • Court appearances

  • Travel for the purpose of completing the adoption

Adoptive dads and moms are also eligible for FMLA after your child is placed in your home. The source of the adoption does not affect your eligibility for FMLA.

How Much FMLA can I Take for an Adoption?

Typically, FMLA provides employees with 12 work weeks of leave in one 12-month period. For traditional childbirth, you can take that time in split increments. For example, you want to be at your child's doctor appointments, so you can take FMLA and attend the well-child checks even if they're only an hour once a month.

The rules are slightly different for adoptions. In this case, you are eligible for intermittent FMLA leave before the placement and for the 12 months after your child is placed in your home. Post-placement leave must be taken in a continuous break and may not be split unless the child has a serious medical condition or your employer agrees to let you take intermittent leave.

How to Take FMLA

Your first step toward receiving FMLA is asking for it. Instead of submitting the standard medical certification form, though, you should ask your attorney to write a letter stating that you are in the process of adoption. It should include how much leave you need and how long the process is expected to take. Your employer will then approve the leave or ask for further details.

Throughout the adoption process, you may be asked for updates or recertifications. Employers do this to ensure that the time you take off is indeed for adoption-related tasks.

Five Questions to Ask Before You Quit Your Job

Bookmark and Share Quitting your job might feel like the only way to escape a stressful position or stretch yourself professionally. Before you quit, though, consider asking yourself five questions to ensure you're quitting for the right reasons.

Am I making an emotional or impulsive decision or one based on facts?

It's normal to feel like quitting in the middle of a tough project or when you're passed over for a promotion, but resist the temptation to quit because of emotions or impulse. Instead, practice coping skills like exercise, meditation or self-advocacy and do what you can to change your work environment. Then give yourself a few weeks to discern if your desire to quit is driven by facts rather than impulse or emotions.   

What are the perks about my current job?

Your discontent could cause you to see only the negatives about your current job. Nearly every job has perks, though, such as a flexible work schedule, generous benefits or short commute. Weigh these perks and decide if you're willing to put up with a stressful workload because of the short commute or if you prefer to exchange the benefits for a more relaxed boss.

What's my track record for time spent at one place?

Some employees establish a pattern of jumping from job to job every year or so. Potential employers will see your track record and assume you'll leave them quickly, too. It's one thing if you do that to climb the ladder, but be honest about why you're job hopping. It might be better to stick it out at a rough job if doing so can helps your resume.

Will it take long to find a new job?

Depending on your skills and the job market in your area, it could take months or even years for you to find a new job after you quit your current one. Your savings and morale will plummet as you wait for another position. That's why it's a good idea to have a new job lined up before you quit.

Have you tried to change your current work conditions?

The temptation to complain about your job is normal, but instead of quitting, make sure you've done everything you can to change your current work conditions. Write out your complaints, and schedule a time to talk to your boss about them. Your boss may be willing and able to change things up so that you can stay, but if not, you may wish to start looking for something different.

Understand Teen Work Hours

Bookmark and Share Every employer must follow fair work hours. Typically, employees can only work 38 regular hours per week, must receive extra pay for shifts that extend outside the normal 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours and receive mandatory meal and rest breaks. The rules are stricter for teens, so understand them before you hire young workers.  

Teen Work Hours

Here's a summary of the hours teens may work.

14-15 year old teens, school weeks:

  • 3 hours per day, Monday through Friday

  • 8 hours Saturday and Sunday

  • Max 16 hours per week, 6 days a week

  • Start 7 a.m., quit 7 p.m.
14-15 year old teens, non-school weeks:

  • 8 hours per day, Monday through Sunday

  • Max 40 hours per week, 6 days a week

  • Start 7 a.m., quit 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. June 1 to Labor Day
16-17 year old teens, school weeks:

  • 4 hours per day, Monday through Thursday

  • 8 hours Friday through Sunday

  • Max 20 hours per week, 6 days a week

  • Start 7 a.m., quit 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, midnight Saturday and Sunday
16-17 year old teens, school weeks with a special variance that proves the teen can handle school and work:

  • 6 hours per day, Monday through Thursday, 8 hours Friday through Sunday

  • Max 28 hours per week, 6 days a week

  • Start 7 a.m., quit 10 p.m. or midnight Friday and Saturday
16-17 year old teens, non-school weeks:

  • 8 hours per day

  • Max 48 hours per week, 6 days a week

  • Start 5 a.m., quit midnight
Breaks and Meals

Any teen employee under 18 years of age must be provided with regular breaks and meals. Meal breaks must last 30 minutes for individuals who work more than five hours in a day. For every four hours worked, teens must receive at least one 10-minute paid rest break. Additionally, employees who are 14 and 15 years old must receive a separate 30-minute uninterrupted meal at least once per four-hour shift and a paid 10-minute rest break every two hours.

How to Hire a Teen

Now that you understand teen work hours, follow several steps as you hire teen employees.

  • Obtain and post a Minor Work Permit that's available at bls.dor.wa.gov. Reapply for it annually.

  • Obtain a signed authorization form from the teen's parent and school

  • Obtain and file a copy of the teen's birth certificate or other proof of age

Tips for Dealing With a Passive Boss

Bookmark and Share Every company needs strong leaders. Without them, the business will fail to achieve goals, lose customers and employees, and possibly fail. That's what makes a passive boss such a disaster for the company and for individual employees like you. Discover several tips that help you deal with a passive boss as you find success at work.

What is a Passive Boss?

Passivity involves sitting on the sidelines and letting employees do whatever they want. It can be extreme, such as ignoring employees and expectations, or simply refusing to get involved in any issue until it becomes serious. You know your boss is passive when you see:

  • No-show managers who assign a project and then disappear into their office

  • Little employee motivation

  • Missed deadlines and unfinished projects

  • Increased conflict, stress and disagreement

  • Unresolved problems that grow rather than shrink over time

  • Lack of feedback for high performing and low performing employees
Take Action

When you figure out that you have a passive boss, understand that nothing you can do will change him or her overnight. However, you can take steps that address the passivity and improve your workplace.

  1. Consider personality. Managerial styles develop over the years and can be part of someone's personality. Your boss may not be trying to be a jerk on purpose, and this fact can help you have compassion as you decide your next step.

  2. Focus on helpfulness. Approach your boss with an attitude of helpfulness as you seek to make real change. Deal with your frustrations beforehand so that your attitude isn't one of accusations or demands, and prepare a list of ways a leadership change will help your boss.

  3. Address your needs. While you want to point out how passivity negatively affects your boss, be sure to share how it also helps you do your job, meet deadlines or know what to expect.

  4. Nix the witch hunt. Even though you may want to gather your co-workers and confront your boss, that strategy will only put him or her on the defensive, aggravate the situation and harm any positive outcome you hope to achieve.

  5. Schedule a one-on-one meeting. Rather than approach your boss during a large meeting, schedule a solo meeting. If your boss is willing to be accountable, set up weekly or bi-weekly meetings that address ongoing concerns.

  6. Talk to the higher-ups. Sometimes, you need to take action and talk to your boss's boss. Take this step if your boss refuses to listen or cannot or won't make changes.

A passive boss affects the entire company. Address the issue with these tips as you make your workplace better for you, your co-workers and your customers.