Most individuals do not need to speak with an employment attorney to know that, under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), qualifying employees can take up to twelve weeks of unpaid medical leave during a one year period to treat a serious medical condition encountered by themselves and/or a close family member. One thing most people do not know, however, is that the FMLA was amended in 2008 and 2010 to provide additional benefits to members of our armed forces and their close family members.
The two major benefits added for military members and their families include “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 amendments provided up to twenty-six 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 the Department of Labor (“DOL”) just issued a new Final Rule which provides additional benefits to what has come to be known as military family leave.
On February 6, 2013, the DOL, Wage and Hour Division, published a Final Rule amending the regulations for the FMLA. The 2013 Final Rule sets forth new regulations implementing amendments made to the FMLA by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (“NDAA FY 2010”). The NDAA FY 2010 amended the FMLA in four major ways by:
- expanding qualifying exigency leave to the Regular Armed Forces;
- requiring that military members be called to active duty in a foreign country in order for an eligible employee to take qualifying exigency leave;
- expanding military caregiver leave to veterans; and
- expanding the definition of serious injury or illness for purposes of military caregiver leave to include pre-existing injuries; namely, injuries which military members had prior to deployment and/or active duty that are reinjured or exacerbated during active duty and/or deployment.
The 2013 Final Rule amends the FMLA regulations in compliance with these NDAA FY 2010 amendments, and makes a few new changes, including the addition of qualifying exigency leave for parental care. Because the NDAA FY 2010 has been in effect since late 2009, many employers will find they have already been implementing many of the changes found in the 2013 Final Rule.
If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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