Friday, February 1, 2008

Expanded FMLA Coverage For Military Families

On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (the “NDAA”). The NDAA includes provisions which amend and significantly expand the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (the “FMLA”) with respect to the rights of military families having service members called to active duty in the armed forces. The NDAA took effect immediately.

Depending on whether a “serious illness or injury” is involved as defined by the new law, the NDAA permits an eligible employee (i.e., a spouse, son, daughter or parent) to take between 12 to 26 weeks of of FMLA leave to care for an injured service member. In addition, the NDAA creates a new category of employees entitled to FMLA leave to care for an injured service member. This new category, known as “next of kin,” is defined as the nearest blood relative to the service member. The NDAA contains several vagaries which will likely be addressed in regulations to be issued by the United States Department of Labor.

It’s nice to see the Feds finally get up to speed this issue. New York and a few other states were ahead of the curve in passing their own family military leave laws well-prior to the enactment of the NDAA.

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