US DOL Updates Family and Medical Leave Act’s Definition of Spouse

US DOL Updates Family and Medical Leave Act’s Definition of Spouse

This information was received from the US Department of Labor, OFCCP on 2/24/15

Federal job-protected family and medical leave rights extended to eligible workers in same-sex marriages

FMLA Same-Sex Spouse

Workers in legal, same-sex marriages, regardless of where they live, will now have the same rights as those in opposite-sex marriages to federal job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a spouse with a serious health condition. The U.S. Labor Department announced a rule change to the FMLA today in keeping with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor. That ruling struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act provision that interpreted “marriage” and “spouse” to be limited to opposite-sex marriage for the purposes of federal law.

The rule change updates the FMLA regulatory definition of “spouse” so that an eligible employee in a legal same-sex marriage will be able to take FMLA leave for his or her spouse regardless of the state in which the employee resides. Previously, the regulatory definition of “spouse” did not include same-sex spouses if an employee resided in a state that did not recognize the employee’s same-sex marriage. Under the new rule, eligibility for federal FMLA protections is based on the law of the place where the marriage was entered into. This “place of celebration” provision allows all legally married couples, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, to have consistent federal family leave rights regardless of whether the state in which they currently reside recognizes such marriages.

The effective date for the rule is March 27, 2015.

Information for Employers

The Family Medical Leave Act requires employers to provide up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for certain family and medical reasons.  Employees are eligible if they have worked for their employer for at least one year and for 1,250 hours and if the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius.

For additional information on the FMLA revisions, including a fact sheet and frequently asked questions, see below:

Additional Information on the FMLA Final Rule

TEXT OF FMLA FINAL RULE FMLA FINAL RULE FACT SHEET FMLA FAQS DOL PRESS RELEASE DOL BLOGS NPRM WEBSITE FMLA HOMEPAGE

Additional FMLA Articles

FMLA ARTICLES

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