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November 16 2009

New Amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act

By: David R. Fernstrum

Just when you thought you were on top of the 2009 changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Congress has changed it yet again. On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (2010 NDAA), which (among many other things) amends the recently-enacted “qualifying exigency” and “care for servicemember” provisions of the FMLA.

Under the original “qualifying exigency” provisions (which became effective earlier this year) eligible employees could take FMLA leave to deal with a variety of problems related to a spouse, parent, son or daughter in the National Guard or Reserves who was called to active duty on short notice. The provisions did not extend to the families of regular military because they were expected to be prepared for deployments as part of their routine. The amendment changes that and expands “qualifying exigency” leave rights to all military families, including those whose spouse, parent, son or daughter is serving in the regular military.

Under the 2008 FMLA amendments, eligible employees are allowed up to 26 weeks of job-protected leave in a 12-month period to care for a family member (spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin) currently in the military who is disabled by a serious injury or illness incurred while on active military duty. The 2010 NDAA now expands the caregiver leave provision to enable eligible employees to care for veterans who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for serious injury or illness that occurred on active duty, provided the leave is taken any time during the five years after the veteran leaves military service.

These changes are effective immediately. Covered employers (private employers with at least 50 employees and all public sector employers) should revise their FMLA policies to reflect these changes and post updated notices to employees about their rights. Please contact any of the employment attorneys at Mika Meyers if you have questions or need assistance.

Related Newsletters
"New Amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act," 11/12/2009