FMLA Coverage Expanded for Family Members of Military Service Personnel

November 16th, 2009

Employers may need to revise their Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies to reflect an expansion in coverage to family members of military service personnel. In 2008, the National Defense Authorization Act granted FMLA protections to family members of military service personnel. The recently signed 2010 National Defense Authorization Act expands this coverage.

Expanded Exigency Leave

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act granted FMLA leave for a qualifying exigency to a family member of someone called to active duty while serving in reserve components of the Armed Forces (the Reserves or the National Guard). The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act extends this to employees whose family members are deployed as a member of a regular component of the Armed Forces for foreign duty.

Expanded Caregiver Leave

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act gave employees the right to take caregiver leave to care for a family member who qualifies as a "covered servicemember." The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act expands this right. Previously, a "covered servicemember" was limited to someone being treated for a serious illness or injury sustained while on active duty. Under the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, the definition also includes a veteran being treated for a serious illness or injury if the veteran was a member of the Armed Forces at any time during the five years preceding the date of treatment. The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act also expands the definition of "serious injury or illness" to include injuries and illnesses that existed prior to active duty and were aggravated by the active duty service. The 2008 law only covered injuries or illnesses incurred on active duty.

The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act is effective immediately. Employers should be sure to understand their obligations under the new law and revise their FMLA policies to reflect these new rules.

Filed Under: Government Law

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