The Department of Labor recently announced a proposal to expand protections of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for military families. The FMLA protects individuals who need unpaid leave from work to address medical issues or care for family members with medical problems. The proposed revisions to the FMLA would help address the unique situations of those caring for military members who are injured, ill or who have spouses or children that are currently deployed, including the following:
- Extend the 26-week unpaid leave entitlement to family members caring for recent veterans with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty;
- Allow family members to take time off from work before, during or after a spouse, child or parent’s deployment to tend to service-related matters, such as making financial and legal arrangements; and
- Increase the amount of time an employee may take to spend with a loved one who is on rest or recuperation leave from five days to up to 15 days
This proposal is a welcome addition to the current FMLA framework. The family members of those injured in service to our country often carry a burden that goes unnoticed or at least unappreciated by society. There should be little objection to protecting those individuals from suffering adverse employment actions when they need leave from work to tend to our injured military.