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FMLA Amended Again to Expand Military Family Leave Rights

November 4, 2009

On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 which includes amendments to the exigency and military caregiver leave provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Under the FMLA, employees of covered employers are entitled to up to twelve weeks of leave to care for a family member’s or the employee’s own serious health condition, or to care for a newborn or newly-adopted child. As amended in January 2008, the FMLA provides additional leave benefits to employees who are the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a member of the Armed Forces. Under the 2008 amendments, such employees are entitled to a total of 26 work weeks of leave during a twelve-month period to care for a service member “who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.” This year’s amendment extends such leave to care for a veteran who was a member of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, at any time during the five-year period preceding the date of treatment.

In addition, under the 2008 amendments, eligible employees are entitled to twelve work weeks of leave during any twelve-month period “because of any qualifying exigency” arising out of the fact that the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on, or has been called for, active duty as a member of the National Guard or Reserves in support of an operation where service members “are or may become involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities.” The 2009 amendments expand exigency leave to include such leave taken by families of active duty members in a foreign operation.

We encourage employers to review their FMLA policies in light of these amendments. For additional information concerning these new amendments, please do not hesitate to contact any of our attorneys.