Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Pennsylvania, You Can't Use the FMLA to Care for a Sick Sibling

Two Friends In The WoodsIn June 2008, Anne Marie faced a difficult decision.  Her sister, Joanne, had been diagnosed with late stage, terminal cervical cancer that left her in need of round-the-clock care.  Joanne was unmarried and without children, and her remaining parent was elderly and suffering from her own medical problems.  Since Joanne needed IV fluids and a feeding tube, hospice was not an option.  Rather than see her sister suffer alone, Anne Marie took the time to care for her sister until the end of her life - and lost her job in the process.

Even though Anne Marie applied for Family and Medical Leave Act coverage at her job, her application was denied because she was using it to care for a sister.  Had Joanne been her mother, spouse, or child, the leave would have been granted.  But even though Joanne was a member of Anne Marie's immediate family, FMLA was not an option.

To combat this issue, some states have passed laws allowing siblings to use the FMLA program.  Anne Marie has been working to pass a similar law, known as "Joanne's Law," in Pennsylvania.  Please take a moment to read more about the law, including data on long-term living in PA, who takes leave to care for loved ones, and the cost of caregiving measured by lost productivity and by poorer physical health among caregivers,  If you support this law, please tell your legislators today.

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