The Family Medical Leave Act Expansion Is Now Law
The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) was expanded on Monday, January 28, 2008 by the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 (“NDAA”). This expansion includes the first such expansion since the FMLA was enacted in 1993.
Care for Members of the Armed Services
The FMLA has just recently been expanded and now provides leave for up to twenty-six (26) work weeks for a “spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin” to care for a “member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.” While the Department of Labor has yet to issue any type of comprehensive guidance, leave for Employees to care for service members is available immediately under the FMLA.
The expanded FMLA will also provide leave for up to twelve (12) work weeks “[b]ecause of any qualifying exigency (as the Secretary shall, by regulation, determine) arising out of the fact that the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation.” While the Department of Labor has not defined “qualifying exigency” as of yet, it appears that the term is not necessarily related to any medical condition. This type of leave is not effective until the Secretary issues final regulations defining “qualifying exigency.” However, the Department of Labor has stated that Employers are encouraged to provide this type of leave to qualifying Employees in the interim.
What This Means To Employers
- Employers should immediately begin notifying Employees about their expanded rights under the amendment to the FMLA by:
- Revising FMLA policies to provide for this expanded leave entitlement;
- Disseminating the newly-revised FMLA policy to their workforce;
- Update Employee Handbooks accordingly;
- Employers should consult employment counsel to ensure that the revised policy and dissemination of same complies with this new significant amendment to the FMLA.
The Schwarzberg & Associates Employment Law and Compliance Team has extensive experience in developing effective policies, procedures and proactive responsive measures to deal with a myriad of workplace issues. Please do not hesitate to contact one of our members; Steve Schwarzberg or Lisa Kohring at (561) 659-3300 to obtain more information about our firm and its various employment law compliance and defense services.