The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Leave to Care for Adult Children: ADA and FMLA

Reference Number: MTAS-1071
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: February 21, 2017
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With the expansion to the scope of ADA by the ADAAA, it is easier for an employee to take leave to care for an adult child who has a serious health condition. Under the FMLA, parents may be eligible to take family leave (FML) to care for adult children who are not in the military and are not veterans if the children are “incapable” of self-care and have a disability defined by ADA. Generally this means the adult children must require direct assistance or supervision providing self-care in three or more activities of daily living such as grooming, hygiene, bathing, dressing, and eating. These could also include instrumental activities of daily living such as essential errands, cooking, cleaning, shopping, transporting, paying bills, using communication devices, and maintaining a residence.

There are many different disabilities or conditions that could deem an adult child incapable of self-care. Conditions such as developmental disabilities including Down Syndrome, brain damage, paralysis, and any other long-term serious illness are just a few examples. If an adult child is incapacitated in a car accident this could also provide the opportunity for an eligible parent to provide care under FMLA. Temporary conditions or illnesses such as pregnancy related restrictions or routine surgeries would likely not result in someone being “incapable of self-care” as defined by the regulations. If you are an employer who is not subject to FMLA, this may not apply to you.

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