New bipartisan legislation would enable parents, children and spouses of military service members to take up to two weeks of leave in connection with the service member’s deployment, even if the family members work part-time or for a small employer and are therefore ineligible to take existing military family leave. Introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and cosponsored by 25 others, the Military Family Leave Act of 2013 (H.R. 1333) would entitled eligible employees to take up to two workweeks of leave in any 12-month period if the uniformed service family member: (a) is notified of an impending call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation; or (b) is deployed in connection with a contingency operation. A “contingency operation” is a military operation that involves or may involve military actions, operations, or hostilities against an opposing military force, or one that results in a call to active duty during a war or national emergency. These provisions would apply to both full and part-time employees in any size company.

Under the provisions of the bill, the leave may be paid or unpaid at the employer’s discretion. Employees would be permitted to substitute any accrued paid vacation, personal, or family leave for unpaid leave. Employers would be able to request proof supporting the entitlement to leave under this bill and would be prohibited from retaliating against an employee for taking advantage of military family leave.

This measure would build upon the military leave entitlements provided by the FY 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, which amended the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow up to 12 weeks of leave if a family member is deployed. As explained in a press release, “the law excludes Americans who work part-time or who are employed by companies with fewer than 50 employees. This Military Family Leave Act would create two work-weeks of the same unpaid military family leave for employees of all stripes.”

This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.