The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Has Changed Again—Make Sure You are in Compliance

On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, which includes the “Supporting Military Families Act of 2009.” This Act contains several amendments to the FMLA’s military leave provisions, and these amendments took effect immediately upon signing.

US Army mother in uniform reads to children

Photo credit: US Army

FMLA Changes for Employer to Implement Immediately

The new FMLA amendments, effective October 28, 2009:

  1. Extend qualifying exigency leave to family members of service members in the regular Armed Forces, not just the National Guard or Reserves, as previously provided.
  2. Eliminate the requirement that qualifying exigency leave must be in support of a contingency operation. Now, for members of the regular Armed Forces, covered active duty means duty during any deployment to a foreign country. For members of the Reserves, covered active duty means duty during deployment to a foreign country under a call or order to active duty.
  3. Extend military caregiver leave to family members of veterans who were members of the Armed Forces (including the National Guard or Reserves) at any time within five years preceding the medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy necessitating the leave.
  4. Revise the definition of “serious injury or illness” for military caregiver leave to include an injury or illness that existed before the beginning of the member’s active duty and was aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty, whether. manifested before or after the member became a veteran.

Regulations regarding these amendments, as well as new FMLA forms incorporating these changes, will be coming soon. Because these rules are already in effect, employers must immediately revise their FMLA policies and procedures and employee handbooks to comply with these changes.

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