FMLA Amendments Provide Greater Protection for Military Members and Their Immediate Families

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) grants family and medical leave to eligible employees under certain circumstances.  As enacted, the FMLA allows employees of a covered employer to take up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid, protected leave each year for one or more of the reasons enumerated therein.  

The FMLA was first significantly amended in 2008 with the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (“FY 2008 NDAA”). The FY 2008 NDAA created two new categories of leave: “qualifying exigency leave” and “military caregiver leave.”  Under the qualifying exigency leave provision, eligible family members (defined as spouse, parent, son or daughter)  of members of the National Guard and Reserves are entitled to take FMLA leave for qualifying exigencies arising out of the military member’s deployment in support of a contingency operation.   A “qualifying exigency” includes short notice deployment, military events and related activities, childcare and school activities, financial and legal arrangements, counseling, rest and recuperation, post-deployment activities, and additional activities to which both the employer and employee agree.  Additionally, the FY 2008 NDAA amendments provided up to 26 workweeks of military caregiver leave in a single 12-month period for an eligible employee to care for a covered service-member with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the covered service-member.  These two leave entitlements are collectively referred to as “military family leave” and were incorporated into the 2008 Final Rule.

For the full article including footnotes click here

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