The FMLA Military Leave Amendments in Action

You may have read about Alexis Hutchinson, who is an Army cook and single mother who is facing potential criminal charges for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan because she did not have child care for her ten-month-old son.  She claims that her superiors told her to put her son in foster care.

This is one of the scenarios that the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 is designed to address.  Under the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, Specialist Hutchinson's immediate family members would be eligible for exigency leave of up to 12 weeks to make child care and other related arrangements for Specialist Hutchinson's deployment.  Under the recent Act, exigency leave is now available to family members of active duty service members in the Armed Forces who are deployed to a foreign country.  Previously, this exigency leave was only available to family members of National Guard members and reservists. 

Employers should be proactive about notifying their employees about the potential military leave options available to them.  At a minimum, they should ensure that they update their FMLA handbook policies and postings to include information about military leave.



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