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Defense Authorization Act Expands Military FMLA Coverage

    Client Alerts
  • November 06, 2009

Last week, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010.  The new law contains provisions that expand military exigency and caregiver Family and Medical Leave first put into law earlier this year.  Specifically, the new law provides:

  1. Exigency leave is expanded to cover family members of active service members deployed to a foreign country.  Under the previous version of the FMLA, this leave was limited to family members of Reservists or National Guard members.
  2. Military caregiver leave benefits now apply to service-related injuries or illnesses up to five years after the veteran undergoes initial medical treatment or therapy.  This change is intended to apply to conditions such as post-traumatic stress syndrome that may manifest themselves long after service ends.
  3. Military caregiver leave is also expanded to cover aggravation of pre-existing medical conditions incurred while on active duty.

The Department of Labor and Veterans Administration are charged with developing regulations implementing the new FMLA amendments.  Employer FMLA policies will likely need to be changed to account for these new leave entitlements.  However, the Act is silent as to whether the law takes effect now or when these rules are issued.  In order to be safe, employers faced with FMLA leave requests covered by the new amendments should respond in accordance with these new legal requirements.