The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been amended to extend leave coverage to families of servicemembers under certain circumstances. Now, an employer that is otherwise subject to the FMLA (50 employees within a 75 mile radius), must extend FMLA protected leave to: (1) family members caring for injured servicemembers and (2) family members who face a “qualifying exigency” (to be defined by the Dep’t of Labor) arising out of a spouse, child or parent being called to active duty in the Armed Forces. An employee who qualifies for leave to care for an ill or injured family servicemember can take up to six months off. This more than doubles from 12 to 26 weeks the annual leave entitlement otherwise available under the FMLA. Employees who qualify for leave because an immediate family member has been called to active duty can take up to 12 weeks off from work. Servicemember FMLA runs concurrent with traditional FMLA leave and any other leave entitlements provided under federal, state or local law.
The new law takes effect immediately. Therefore, employers are advised to amend their FMLA leave policies to provide notice of these new leave entitlements.