Remember when your geometry teacher explained a square is a rectangle, a rectangle is sometimes a square, they are always a polygon, but they are only regular polygons, not complex polygons.  That is kind of how it goes when opening a discussion about “Family & Medical Leave”, “Family Leave” and “Parental Leave.”  There is a whole host of rules that are ‘always’, ‘sometimes’, and ‘never’. The only constant message is that “it depends.”

Family & Medical Leave is generally the term for leaves that cover periods of illness for the employee, to care for a family member, and for bonding. Some throw in exigency for good measure, but others do not (such as CA FRA).  That is not to say that the state doesn’t cover it elsewhere, since CA Family Rights Act does not cover pregnancy, but that is because of their very generous CA PDL.

Family Leave, one might assume is ONLY to cover care for a family.  For the most part, you would be right. That is unless you get into the realm of “Paid Family Leave” where that which is covered is different than the unpaid leave laws. We would have hoped for consistent naming conventions, but we would have been very unrealistic.  So, if you’re comfortable with the family leaves, always remember, it depends.

Parental Leave is almost always exclusively for bonding periods. They may cover biological, adoptive placement, and foster placement.  However, there will be ‘combo’ leaves, such as MN Pregnancy and Parenting Leave, so they throw in the mother’s period of incapacity, but others do not. And like with the Family Leaves, once you throw in there whether it is paid or not, all bets are off for what is covered compared to unpaid job protection regulations.

My advice to you is to assume nothing, ever.  Using Leave Management software or other resources available to ensure you’re covering your bases, based on your employee situation, will be a great advantage to you.  Remember, no matter which regulation(s) apply, you will inevitably come across somebody who simply calls everything “FML”.  You have my permission to roll your eyes at them, since it’s akin to telling somebody you’re from Texas (as I am…and it’s a really big state) and they ask you if you know a guy they once met at summer camp.  It depends, I reckon.