Great News for Living Organ Donors: U.S. Department of Labor Says Organ Donors are Protected Under FMLA

American Kidney Fund commends DOL opinion, urges passage of Living Donor Protection Act

Rockville, Maryland

ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 29, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Kidney Fund today commended a new opinion letter from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that protects the job security of living organ donors under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). With this opinion, any eligible employee who wishes to be a living donor is entitled to unpaid, job-protected leave for the surgery and recovery period.

“The DOL opinion is a game-changer for many Americans who may have considered donating a kidney, but who could not take the time off for fear of losing their jobs,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund. “Supporting and encouraging living donation is good public policy and we commend the Department of Labor for recognizing this.”

The DOL opinion letter builds upon some existing protections for living donors. Employees of the U.S. government are already permitted 30 days of paid leave for organ donation and seven days for bone marrow donation; many states have similar leave policies for state government employees. Some states extend paid leave to private sector employees as well. Most recently, in May 2018, Colorado passed the Living Organ Donor Support Act, extending paid leave to living donors by providing a voluntary tax credit to their employers. And in March, Maryland passed House Bill 96 which gives living organ donors a tax credit of up to $7,500 to offset their expenses, joining other states that provide tax breaks to encourage living organ donation.

“Declaring that living donation is a qualifying condition that triggers FMLA for employees in every state is an important first step in creating a consistent national policy that protects living donors,” Burton said. “We call on Congress to go even further and pass the Living Donor Protection Act, which codifies important anti-discrimination measures for living donors.”

In addition to qualifying living donation under FMLA, the Living Donor Protection Act (H.R. 1270) would also prohibit life, disability and long-term care insurers from denying policies to living donors or charging them higher premiums.

Today, more than 114,000 Americans are on the organ transplant waiting list, with more than 96,000 waiting for a kidney. In 2017, of nearly 20,000 kidney transplants, only 5,811 were from living donors.

About the American Kidney Fund

As the nation’s leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans with kidney disease, the American Kidney Fund is dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. AKF provides a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention outreach, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling 1 in 5 U.S. dialysis patients to access lifesaving medical care, including dialysis and transplantation. AKF holds the highest ratings from the nation’s charity watchdog groups, including Charity Navigator, which includes AKF on its “top 10” list of nonprofits with the longest track records of outstanding stewardship of the donated dollar, and GuideStar, which has awarded AKF its Platinum Seal of Transparency.

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