Business Workshop: FMLA Continues to Expand

The Department of Labor continues to expand coverage of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Department recently published an interpretation of the Act that makes it easier for qualified employees to take FMLA leave to care for an adult child with a disability.

Shortly afterward, new regulations were published that expand and clarify FMLA-related military leave.

Among other clarifications, the new Labor Department interpretation says that the onset of the child’s disability can come at any age — even after the age of 18. Previously, there was some controversy as to whether the FMLA covered adult children whose disability had occurred or been diagnosed as an adult.

But now, an employee may take FMLA leave to care for an adult child who is incapable of self-care due to a serious, adult-onset health condition.

The Labor Department next issued regulations expanding military related FMLA leave. Significant changes include:

  • Expanding the ability of a caregiver to take leave to care for covered service members, who now include veterans discharged within the past five years.
  • Expanding the definition of current service member with serious injury or illness to include injuries or illnesses that existed before active duty and were aggravated by service.
  • Expanding qualifying exigency leave, which previously included only the National Guard and Reserves, to include the Regular Armed Forces deployed to a foreign county. Exigency leave includes arranging for care for a parent or child, financial and legal arrangements, and other activities.
  • Expanding the amount of time from five to 15 days that an employee can spend with a military member on rest and recuperation leave.

Employers should revise their current FMLA polices and carefully consider employee requests that may be covered under these expansions.For more information on this topic, please contact Elaina Smiley at [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Business Workshop section.

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