Skip to Main Content

Keeping you informed

DOL Amends Rules to Extend FMLA Benefits to More Same-Sex Spouses

    Client Alerts
  • March 06, 2015
Last week, the Department of Labor issued new regulations changing the definition of “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Eligible employees may take FMLA leave to care for a spouse with a serious health condition. Prior to its latest change, DOL had extended the definition to cover same-sex spouses only if the state in which the employee resides recognized same-sex marriage (the so-called “state of residence” rule).

In its new rule, DOL extended these rights to all legally married spouses regardless of their state of residence (the “state of celebration” rule). For example, if a same-sex couple married in one of the 32 states that currently allow such marriages, they enjoy FMLA rights even if they move to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Employers and employee rights groups that commented on the proposed rules overwhelmingly supported the change. If the Supreme Court holds later this year that same-sex marriage is a nationwide protected right, the new DOL rule would become largely moot. For the time being, the new regulation takes effect March 30.