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National Defense Authorization Act Expands Military-Related FMLA Leave

Thursday, November 12, 2009 

National Defense Authorization Act Further Expands Military-Related FMLA Leave

On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, which, in part, expands the rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of military service members and their families. Employers should be aware of several important changes to the FMLA included in this new law that take effect immediately.

The new law expands coverage of “exigency leave” and “service member caregiver leave” for military families. Such military leave provisions were originally adopted in 2008.

The new law extends coverage for “exigency leave” of up to 12 weeks to the families of all active-duty members of the military who are deployed to a foreign country. Before, under the military leave provisions adopted in 2008, such “exigency leave” was available only to family members of National Guard members and military reservists.

Also, the new legislation extends the coverage of “service member caregiver leave” available under the FMLA to include caring for a child, spouse, parent, or next of kin who is a veteran undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious illness or injury and who was a member of the Armed Forces (including the National Guard or Reserves) at any time during the five years preceding the date on which the veteran undergoes the treatment. The medical treatment the veteran receives must be related to a serious injury or illness suffered while in the line of duty, or which existed before the beginning of the veteran’s military service. Under this provision, a caregiver is now permitted to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for such an injured or ill veteran.

It is unclear when the Department of Labor will begin to enforce these new provisions of the FMLA. However, employers who are covered by the FMLA should immediately revise their leave policies to reflect and implement these changes.

For assistance in reviewing or revising your FMLA policies, or for further information regarding the new provisions, please contact your regular Calfee contact or one of the labor and employment attorneys below:

Todd F. Palmer

David J. Kaufman

This alert is provided by Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP for education and information purposes only. This alert is not intended to provide legal advice on specific subjects. The resolution of legal issues depends upon the specific facts of a particular situation and the laws involved. This alert may be considered advertising under applicable laws.