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  • 10
  • Mar
  • 2015
FMLA now includes legally married same-sex spouses

By Eve A. Baker, Marine Corps Base Quantico

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 gives eligible employees of covered employers the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for specific family and medical reasons.

Eligible employees who need time off to care for a service member who becomes ill or injured in the line of duty may take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave.

A “covered employer,” according to the Department of Labor website, is a private sector employer with 50 or more employees, as well as a local, state or federal government agency or public or private elementary school, regardless of how many individuals the organization employs.

On Feb. 25, the DOL amended the definition of “spouse” to include legally married same-sex spouses. Further, the rule clarifies that, if an otherwise eligible employee is currently living in a state where same-sex marriage is not recognized, as long as the person and his or her spouse were married in a state that does recognize same-sex marriages, the employee will still be eligible for benefits under the FMLA.

The change comes in response to the Supreme Court ruling that declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and is meant to ensure all married couples, regardless of the genders of the partners, can care for each other and their family members.

The revised rule becomes effective March 27.

For information, visit www.dol.gov/whd/fmla.