New Legislation Expands FMLA Rights

May 20, 2008

On December 14, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that will expand workplace leave benefits to employees with family members in the Armed Services. The National Defense Authorization Act (HR 1585) had previously passed the House of Representatives, and President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days.

The portion of the legislation addressing leave for employees with family members in military service represents the first expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) since its origin in 1993.

Active Duty Leave

Employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave to an employee whose immediate family members (spouse, children, or parent) is called to active duty in the Armed Forces. Active duty leave may be taken for any issues related to the call-up, and the leave may commence as soon as an individual receives a call-up notice.

Caregiver Leave

This benefit provides up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave in a single 12-month period for a spouse, child, parent, or nearest blood relative to care for a recovering service member. A "recovering service member" is defined as a member of the Armed Forces who suffered an injury or illness while on active duty that renders the person unable to perform the duties of the person's office, grade, rank, or rating.