The U.S. Department of Labor has released final rules to implement previous amendments to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) related to military family leave. A new poster reflecting these changes is now available. Employers with 50 or more employees are generally required to display the FMLA poster where both employees and applicants for employment can see it.
Who is Eligible for FMLA Leave?
To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer and:
- Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave; and
- Work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
Military Family Leave Under FMLA
The FMLA includes two special military family leave entitlements—military caregiver leave and qualifying exigency leave:
- Military caregiver leave allows an eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a current servicemember with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty to take up to 26 workweeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period to care for the servicemember.
- Under the qualifying exigency leave provisions, an eligible employee whose spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member is allowed to take up to 12 workweeks of leave to address certain special issues (called "qualifying exigencies") arising out of the military member's active duty or call to active duty in support of a contingency operation. Qualifying exigencies include activities such as attending military sponsored functions, making appropriate financial and legal arrangements, and arranging for alternative childcare.
Changes Made in 2010
Amendments to the FMLA issued in 2010 expanded the military caregiver leave provision to entitle an eligible employee to take leave to care for certain veterans, and to allow military caregiver leave for current servicemembers with a serious injury or illness that existed prior to service and that was aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty.
The amendments also expanded the qualifying exigency provisions to entitle an eligible employee whose spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a member of the Regular Armed Forces to take leave, and added a foreign deployment requirement for qualifying exigency leave for all military members (National Guard, Reserves, Regular Armed Forces).
Final Rules Provide FMLA Guidelines for Employers
Highlights of the final rules to implement the 2010 amendments include:
- Expansion of the definition of a covered servicemember to include certain veterans. The final rule expands the 26-workweek military caregiver leave provision to include leave to care for covered veterans who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty and that manifested before or after the veteran left active duty.
- Inclusion of pre-existing injuries or illnesses aggravated in the line of duty on active duty. The final rule expands military caregiver leave to cover current servicemembers with serious injuries or illnesses that existed before the servicemember's active duty but were aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty.
- Expansion of qualifying exigency leave for employees with family members in the Regular Armed Forces. The final rule expands the qualifying exigency leave entitlement to employees whose spouse, son, daughter, or parent serve in the Regular Armed Forces, and incorporates the statutory requirement that the military member, whether in the Regular Armed Forces or the Reserve components, must be deployed to a foreign country.
- Certain changes to the categories of qualifying exigency leave, including a new qualifying exigency category that allows an eligible employee to take FMLA leave for certain activities related to the care of the military member's parent who is incapable of self-care where those activities arise from the military member's deployment or impending deployment.
The final rules also implement amendments clarifying the application of the FMLA to airline personnel and flight crews.
For More Information
Additional information regarding these changes, including a military leave guide, fact sheets, and FAQs, are available from the U.S. Department of Labor. To learn more about the Family and Medical Leave Act, please visit our section on the FMLA.
And help protect your company against FMLA abuse with our free eBook, 8 Strategies for Preventing FMLA Abuse.
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