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Thursday, October 29, 2009

FMLA Military Leave Law Expanded in Defense Bill

By Tommy Eden

On Wednesday October 28, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 2647) a summary is found at:

The new law includes an expansion of the recently-enacted exigency and caregiver leave provisions for military families under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).

In January 2008, the new FMLA regulations became effective providing as follows:
Exigency leave - up to 12 weeks of leave for urgent needs related to a reservist family member’s (spouse, son, daughter, or parent) call to active service.

New - H.R. 2647 at Section 585 expands the exigency leave benefits to include family members of active duty service members. Under current law, only family members of National Guard and Reservists are eligible for “exigency leave.

Caregiver leave - up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to an employee to care for a family member (spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin) who is injured while serving on active military duty.

New - H.R. 2647 at Section 585 expands the caregiver leave provision to include veterans who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for serious injury or illness that occurred any time during the five years preceding the date of treatment. These provisions are effective upon enactment (i.e. October 28, 2009).

Common Sense Counsel: Review your current FMLA Policy to see if it should be updated. I suspect that the Deptartment of Labor will shortly amend their suggested forms. Stay tuned.

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at