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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Military family members to receive expanded rights under FMLA

The Obama administration recently announced a proposed expansion of eligibility under the Family and Medical Leave Act for military families. The proposed expansion is meant to recognize the support that family members and caregivers provide to military service members and veterans.


The Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees with unpaid leave for certain medical and family emergencies and the proposal would help military family members care for military service members when they are injured or deployed on short notice.

Under the current version of the FMLA only family members of active military service members were eligible for unpaid leave. The proposal will expand the rights of military family members by allowing them to care for injured veterans. In addition, families with members serving in all branches of the armed services will be eligible for time off under the proposal. Currently, only families with relatives serving in the National Guard and families with relatives serving as reservists are covered.

Specifically, family members of the proposed military service groups would receive up to 26 weeks of leave to care for injured or sick veterans. Family members would be able to take leave to care for injured veterans up to five years after military members leave service. The additional time allows caregivers to address conditions that do not appear until after the conclusion of military service.

The proposal also allows spouses, parents and children up to 12 weeks of leave to help service members deployed on short notice. The leave provides the opportunity to attend military events and to deal with child care and financial and legal issues. Family members will also be given the chance to take up to 15 days to visit with service members who are on leave. The current amount of given time is 5 days.

Source: The Associated Press, "Obama administration plan would help military families take leave to care for service members," Jan. 30, 2011

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