The Department of Labor issued new rules that increase the protections of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for certain military families, effective March 8, 2013. FMLA requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees.

Military Caregiver Leave
The new rule allows eligible military family members (defined as a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of a servicemember)  to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for current servicemembers receiving medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy.  The same applies to the eligible family members of veterans, if that veteran was a member of the Armed Forces at any time during the five year period preceding the date of the medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness. However, for veterans, that serious illness or injury must have been incurred or aggravated by the member in the line of duty in the Armed Forces. The rule also expands the definition of a serious injury or illness for current servicemembers to include pre-existing injuries or illnesses that were aggravated in the line of duty.

Qualifying Exigency Leave
The new regulations increase the FMLA time an eligible employee (the spouse, son, daughter or parent of a servicemember) may take to spend time with a military member on Rest and Recuperation (R&R) leave from 5 to 15 calendar days. Employees may already use FMLA leave for other limited reasons, including: short notice deployment; military events and related activities; childcare and school activities; financial and legal arrangements; counseling; post-deployment activities.

Learn more about the changes to Military Caregiver Leave and Qualifying Exigency Leave at the Department of Labor website, or download the FMLA Military Leave Employee Guide.