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A Better Partnership


Mar 2013
March 11, 2013

New FMLA Rules for Military Families

It may be time to update your Family and Medical Leave Policy. The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a new Final Rule  that takes effect on March 8, 2013. Among other changes, the Final Rule expands the military caregiver and qualifying exigency leave provisions.

Military Caregiver Leave allows an eligible employee who is the spouse, parent, child or next of kin of a covered service member with a serious illness or injury to take up to 26 work weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during any single 12-month period to care for the service member. Previously, military caregiver leave was limited to the family members of current covered service members. The Final Rule expands the military caregiver leave to include family members of “covered veterans.”

A “covered veteran” is an individual who (1) was a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves; (2) was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable; and (3) was discharged or released during the five-year period before the first date the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care for the covered veteran.

The Final Rule also expands the definition of “serious injury or illness” to include injuries or illnesses that pre-existed the service member or covered veteran’s active duty, but were aggravated in the line of duty

Qualifying Exigency Leave has been expanded. Previously, it was limited to eligible employees whose family member was a military member of the National Guard and Reserves. Now the definition includes members of the Regular Armed Forces on covered active duty. “Covered active duty” requires deployment to a foreign country.

The Final Rule adds a new category for parental care. Previously, an eligible employee could take qualifying exigency leave for any of the following reasons: (1) short notice deployment; (2) military events and related activities; (3) childcare and school activities; (4) financial and legal arrangements; (5) counseling; (6) rest and recuperation; (7) post-deployment activities; and (8) additional activities. Now, eligible employees may also take leave to care for a military member’s parent who is incapable of self-care when the care is necessitated by the member’s covered active duty.

You may view the Final Rule here.

Additionally, as part of the newly implemented changes, employers will be required to post a new FMLA poster. You can download a copy of the poster here.

If you have any questions or would like assistance reviewing your FMLA policy, please contact Rob Dubault ( or 231.727.2638) or another member of Warner Norcross & Judd’s Labor and Employment Practice Group.

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