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eTrends - Coverage for Military Families Expanded Under FMLA Amendments

12.01.2009

On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (“NDAA 2010”), which includes provisions expanding the qualifying exigency and military caregiver leave provisions under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) that went into effect in January 2008. The most recent expansion went into effect on October 28, 2009. Accordingly, employers should revise their FMLA policies as soon as possible.

In January 2008, Congress expanded the FMLA by creating these two new categories of leave for certain relatives of covered servicemembers who are on, or called to, active duty or injured in the line of duty. The January 2008 amendments provided up to 12 workweeks of leave to certain relatives of National Guard and Reserve members during any 12-month period for any “qualifying exigency” arising out of a call or order to active duty.  The NDAA 2010 expands qualifying exigency leave by extending it to certain relatives of members of the regular Armed Forces, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserves.  Qualifying exigencies may include short-notice deployment, certain military events related to active duty assignment, childcare and school obligations and activities, financial and legal planning, counseling related to active duty assignment, short term rest and recuperation during deployment, post-deployment activities, and other activities as agreed upon by the employer and employee.

The January 2008 amendments to the FMLA also provided that certain relatives of covered servicemembers may take up to 26 workweeks of leave to care for a covered servicemember who is injured while serving in active duty.  The NDAA 2010 expands such military caregiver leave by extending it to care for veterans who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a service-related serious injury or illness and who were members of the Armed Forces (including the National Guard or Reserves) during the 5 years preceding the date of treatment.

As noted above, the FMLA amendments included in the NDAA 2010 were effective upon enactment on October 28, 2009, and employers should review their FMLA policies and procedures and make appropriate revisions. Employers also should ensure that their managers and HR professionals are aware of the changes.

Please contact Travis Hockaday with any questions regarding the recent FMLA amendments.

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  • Alicia A. Gilleskie agilleskie@smithlaw.com
  • Frederick R. Zufelt fzufelt@smithlaw.com

Smith Anderson publishes eTrends periodically as a service to clients and friends. The purpose of this eTrends is to provide general information about a significant legal development in the field of employment law. Readers should be aware that the facts may vary from one situation to another, so the conclusions stated herein may not be applicable to the reader’s particular circumstances.

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