HR Management & Compliance

White House Proposes Expanded Military FMLA Leave Provisions

The Obama administration is proposing expanded leave provisions under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for military families. The proposed rule would extend the entitlement of military caregiver leave to family members of veterans for up to five years after the veteran leaves the military. At the present time, the law covers family members of “currently serving” service members.

The proposed changes would allow up to 26 weeks of leave from work for a spouse, parent, or child who cares for a veteran with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis said while making the announcement on January 30. That includes conditions that don’t show up until after the veteran has left military service.

In addition to including veterans and their families, the proposal would expand the military family leave provisions by extending qualifying exigency leave to employees whose family members serve in the regular armed forces. Currently, the law covers just families of National Guard members and reservists. The leave would allow employees time before, during, or after their spouse, child, or parent is deployed abroad to help the service member by attending military briefings and making financial and legal arrangements, Solis said.

Also, the proposal would expand – from five days to up to 15 days – the amount of time an employee may take to spend with a service member while he or she is on rest and recuperation leave.

In addition to the military provisions, Solis announced a proposal to incorporate a special FMLA eligibility provision for airline flight crew employees. The proposed revision would make the benefits of the FMLA more accessible, according to a U.S. Department of Labor statement, by adding a special hours of service eligibility requirement and specific provisions for calculating the amount of FMLA leave used “that better take into account the unique – and often difficult to track – hours worked by crew members.”

Keep up with the latest developments in the FMLA and other federal employment laws with Federal Employment Law Insider. You can also get comprehensive compliance information in the FMLA Compliance Manual, which includes a quarterly newsletter with updated information on the Family and Medical Leave Act.