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.

 

 

The Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act Expands Military Leave Under the FMLA ... Again

Yesterday, President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, which provides, in part, for additional exigency and caregiver leave provisions for military families.  The Act amends the military leave provisions of the FMLA, which were adopted in 2008.  The changes took effect immediately.

The exigency leave benefit (of up to 12 weeks) now will be available to family members of active duty service members in the Armed Forces who are deployed to a foreign country.  Formerly, this exigency leave was available only to family members of National Guard members and reservists. 

In addition, under the Act, the caregiver leave benefit (of up to 26 weeks) now includes leave to take care of a child, spouse, parent or next of kin who (1) is a veteran, (2) is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for serious injury or illness, and (3) was a member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserves) at any time during the five years preceding the date of treatment.  The medical treatment must be related to a serious injury or illness incurred while in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces or which existed before the beginning of military service, and which was aggravated by service in the line of duty while on active duty. 

Employers should revise their FMLA policies and notices to reflect these new amendments and comply immediately. 

U.S. Office of Professional Management Issues Proposed Regulations Implementing Military Family Leave under the FMLA for Federal Employees

On August 26, 2009, the U.S. Office of Professional Management issued proposed regulations implementing military family leave under the FMLA  for federal employees.  The proposed regulations would provide eligible federal employees up to 26 administrative workweeks of leave under the FMLA to care for a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is injured in the line of duty while on active duty; amend the rules on advancing sick leave; and make organizational changes to the existing sick leave and FMLA regulations to enhance reader understanding and administration of these programs. 

Comments must be received on or before October 26, 2009. 

See my prior postings for links to the Revised FMLA Regulations concerning military leave for employees of private employers.