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FMLA and The National Defense Authorization Act

Recently, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2010 which makes significant changes to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). All employers who must comply with the FMLA, are strongly encouraged to become knowledgeable of these changes and incorporate them into their administration of the FMLA, and FMLA policy language.

This is a basic overview of those changes:

1) Up until these recent changes under the NDAA, the FMLA provided eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for an “exigency” associated with a family member’s call to service in a foreign country. However, this type of leave was restricted to eligible employees with a family member in the National Guard or Reserves only. However, the NDAA has broadened this coverage to include eligible employees with a family member who is on active duty in a regular component of the Armed Forces or a reserve component of the Armed Forces. (A qualifying “exigency” includes, but is not limited to: short-notice deployment, military events, child care and school activities, etc.)

2) The FMLA also provides covered employees with up to 26 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave to care for a family member who is a service member or veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, for a serious injury or illness sustained within 5 years prior to the date of treatment, and who was a member of the Armed Forces (this includes a member of National Guard or Reserves).  Prior to the expansion of the Act, eligible employees were provided with 26 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave to care for a family member who is a service member in the active military. However, veterans are now included in this portion of the Act.

In addition to integrating these changes in your FMLA policy and FMLA administrative processes, we recommend that your workplace labor law posters include this information, and that you make your employees aware of the expanded coverage under the Act. This article assumes the reader possesses a general understanding of the FMLA.

The above content is intended to be used for informational purposes only and must not be regarded as a legal opinion or advice. Please consult with your own legal counsel before taking any actions based on the following information.

Kevin Huber, PHR (kevin@khhr.net) is a Human Resources professional and has over 10 years of Human Resources experience in both HR services/consulting and corporate HR realms with a focus in HR compliance for the past 6 years.   He currently serves as the HR Compliance Manager for a nationwide HR services company in Florida.  When not working in HR he is also a local Jazz drummer in the Tampa Bay area.