On Jan. 28, 2008,President Bush signed the first expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The National Defense Authorization Act, expands FMLA to include two new leave entitlements for employees caring for injured service members and for exigency leave for family members called to active duty.

Those eligible workers entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid under the amendment will now include an employee needed for any exigency arising from a spouse, child, or parent on active duty or called to active duty (or notified of an impending call) in support of a contingency operation.

Up to 26 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave will be available under the amendment for a spouse, child, parent, or "nearest blood relative" (next of kin) caring for a recovering service member, who has suffered an injury or illness while on active duty, where that person is unable to perform the duties of the service member's office, rank, or rating.

Under the new law, an eligible employee could use the leave on an incremental basis (in the smallest increment that the employer's payroll system can track).

The Department of Labor will need to issue new regulations but have issued guidance. The guidance states that the caregiver provision is effective with the new law. The call to active duty provision will not be effective until the regulations define “any qualifying exigency.”However, the DOL encourages employers to provide this type of leave in the interim.