Employees are now entitled to take up to two (2) weeks of unpaid leave per year under the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) to care for domestic partners with serious health conditions. The entitlement was added to the WFMLA by the budget bill, which was signed by Governor Doyle on June 29, 2009 and is effective immediately.

Individuals can become domestic partners in two (2) ways. First, individuals in same-sex relationships can register with the Register of Deeds of the county in which they reside. To register, the couple will need to certify that:

  1. Each individual is at least eighteen (18) years of age and capable of consenting to the relationship;
  2. Neither individual is married to, or in a domestic partnership with, another individual;
  3. They share a common residence;
  4. They are not related by blood or adoption any nearer than second cousins; and
  5. They are members of the same sex.

To qualify as domestic partners without registration, couples must meet the first three (3) requirements, above, plus the following:

  1. They must not be related by blood in a way that would prohibit marriage under Wisconsin law;
  2. They must consider themselves to be members of each other’s immediate family; and
  3. They must agree to be responsible for each other’s basic living expenses.

Employers will need to update their policies and forms to conform with the amendment to the WFMLA. Additionally, employers should ensure that their WFMLA posting is up to date. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has issued an updated workplace poster to help employers fulfill their duty. The poster can be obtained at https://www.dwd.state.wi.us/dwd/publications/erd/pdf/erd_7983_p.pdf.

If you would like assistance with updating your policies and forms, or creating new documents to incorporate this change to the WFMLA, please contact Meg Vergeront.

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