2010 Defense Budget Expands FMLA for Military Families

Last Wednesday President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.  The new law primarily deals with the budget for the military.  Also contained in the voluminous new law are two provisions unrelated to military spending.  The first is the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate-Crimes Prevention Act.  The second is a provision that expands leave rights for military families under the FMLA.  The major changes to the FMLA include expanded leave for military exigencies and expanded caregiver leave. 

Under the prior changes to the FMLA, which added the military leave provisions, Qualifying Exigency Leave was only available to family members of those serving in the National Guard or reserve components of the Armed Forces.  Under the new law, qualifying exigency leave is now also available to family members whose “spouse, or son or daughter or parent” is serving in the regular armed forces when the qualifying exigency occurs.  The qualifying exigencies, you will recall from our seminars are the eight different things listed in the regulations, including child care activities, post deployment activities, counseling and short notice deployment, among others.

The second major change to the FMLA is that “service member care giver leave” under the Act (you remember from our seminars that this is the 26 weeks to care for a veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty and applied only to current not former members of the armed forces) has been expanded to include a veteran who is undergoing treatment for an injury or illness incurred in the line of duty and who was a member of the armed forces at any time in the 5 years preceding the time the veteran is undergoing treatment. 

The Act does not specifically state when the FMLA changes take effect, but the Defense Budget as a whole was effective when signed.

We can expect the regulations to be modified to reflect these changes in the law