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Foster children now included in state family leave law

If your company provides family leave, you must now include foster children in those covered.

LEGAL NEWS: Family leave must now include foster children, according to a new law that took effect in Texas on Sept. 1. The law only applies to companies that already provide family leave benefits, something the Lone Star State does not require.

The new law provides that an employer who administers a family leave policy, which allows for personal leave to care for or assist an employee’s sick child, commits an unlawful employment practice if it does not treat foster children identically to natural or adoptive children.

To be considered a foster child under this law, the child must reside in the same household as the employee and must be under the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

The new Texas law is similar to the requirements under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act; however, FMLA only applies to private employers with 50 or more employees.

The Texas law, therefore, covers companies with family leave policies that have fewer than 50 employees.

Because is already in effect, employers in this situation should immediately implement it. Companies should also review any existing family leave policies and update the language of those policies to assure compliance with the new law.

The law is not retroactive. In other words, it applies only to situations that occur after Sept. 1, 2017.

Violation of this law could result in the employer having to answer to the aggrieved employee in an administrative proceeding before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and possibly even a lawsuit.

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