CHICAGO - New policy adopted at the American Medical Association's ( AMA ) Annual Meeting calls for inclusive family and medical leave policies to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer ( LGBTQ ) workers who shoulder the care of relatives, spouses, partners and others.
"Physicians understand the day-to-day challenges and rewards for individuals who are helping to care for a loved one who needs help," said AMA [spokesperson]. "The new AMA policy signals that physicians support the need and benefit of policies for family and medical leave that are inclusive of LGBTQ workers."
The Family and Medical Leave Act ( FMLA ) requires employers with 50 or more employees to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid annual leave to allow workers to care for a spouse, child, or parent ( except in-laws ) with a serious health condition, to take leave for personal health conditions, or to care for newly born or adopted children.
The new policy calls on the AMA to advocate for FMLA policies to include any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.
There are clear health benefits to be gained from family and medical leave policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ workers. A 2008 National Health Interview Survey indicated workers with paid leave are significantly more likely to see health care professionals and to receive preventive screenings. In 2016, a study from the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry asserted that affirming the chosen family of LGBT individuals in family and medical leave policies improved mental well-being.
The AMA policy adds to a growing recognition among states that regulations need to be modified to expand the categories of individuals for whom an employee may use leave. Arizona, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New York, and Oregon have expanded upon the federal FMLA regulations in favor of the "blood or affinity" model, which allows FMLA-equivalent benefits for chosen family, domestic partners, and individuals who are dependent or mutually interdependent on the employed individual.
Learn more about how the AMA policies address issues of interest to LGBTQ physicians, residents, fellows, medical students, patients and allies.