The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) has been amended yet again. On October 30, 2009, President Obama signed into law House Resolution 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, which expands FMLA coverage in three ways.
First, Qualifying Exigency Leave is now available when the employee’s parent, spouse, or child is serving in the Regular Armed Forces and is deployed to a foreign country. Previously, such leave was available only when the parent, spouse, or child was called up to active duty while serving in the National Guard or Reserves or while retired from the Regular Armed Forces, the National Guard, or Reserves.
Second, Military Caregiver Leave will soon be available when the employee is the parent, spouse, child, or next-of-kin of a veteran who is undergoing treatment, recuperation or therapy for a qualifying “serious injury or illness” and who was a member of the Regular Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves within the past five years. Previously, such leave was available only for family members who were current members of the military or on the temporary disability retired list. This provision will not take effect until the Department of Labor defines which injuries or illnesses suffered by a veteran qualify for Military Caregiver Leave.
Finally, the term “serious injury or illness” has been expanded to include conditions that existed before the service member’s active duty began and were aggravated by service in the line of duty while on active duty. Previously, Military Caregiver Leave was available only for injuries or illness incurred in the line of duty while on active duty. Employers should modify their policies and practices in light of these most recent changes to the FMLA.