WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. — More support has been extended to military dependents through expansions of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which include unpaid, job-protected time off for care of injured servicemembers or veterans and activities arising from a servicemember’s deployment.
While family members of the U.S. Armed Forces have enjoyed entitlements under the FMLA since 2008, when it was amended to include them and again in 2010, when it was broadened, the latest changes refine and further extend leave entitlements to eligible dependents of servicemembers.
“Military families can find themselves facing great challenges. Caring for an injured service member, arranging for alternative childcare when a spouse is deployed to a foreign country, or attending arrival ceremonies when a loved one returns from a deployment, may present family members with difficult decisions about time spent at work versus time spent with family,” according to a statement published by the U.S. Department of Labor. This government agency is responsible for administering and enforcing the entitlement. “The FMLA helps to ease the burden that can come with needing time away from work when faced with such commitments.”
The amendment to the act, which was first signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, grants protections for eligible workers under the FMLA’s Military Family Leave Provisions. This includes up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for dependents of a servicemember deployed to a foreign country. The leave may be used for such purposes as making alternative child care arrangements, attending military ceremonies and briefings for family and making financial or legal arrangements to address the military member’s absence, according to the Labor Department.
The FMLA also entitles eligible dependents to take up to 26 workweeks of military caregiver leave in a single 12-month period to care for a qualified, injured servicemember or veteran.
An eligible servicemember is either a current member of the Armed Forces, including regular, Reserve and the National Guard, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy and is in outpatient status. In addition, is on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness or a veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, within the five-year period before the family member first takes military caregiver leave to care for the veteran.
“In announcing this final rule, the Department of Labor is taking great steps toward protecting those families who have given so much of themselves to protect us,” according to the Labor Department. “Provided that FMLA coverage and eligibility requirements are met, family members of current servicemembers and veterans will now have far greater abilities to attend to personal matters and medical needs related to their family members’ service.”
The FMLA makes it unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny, the exercise of any right provided by the act. The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division is responsible for administering and enforcing the FMLA for most employees. To contact one of their offices, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm.
A FMLA mini-card that describes the basic benefits for military dependents is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/2013rule/FMLA_Military_mini_English_readers.pdf.
For additional information about how the FMLA impacts servicemembers and their families, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/2013rule/militaryFactsheets.htm and http://www.dol.gov/WHD/fmla/2013rule/FMLA_Military_Guide_ENGLISH.pdf.