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“Spouse” Definition Revised in FMLA Rule Change

By May 11, 2015 No Comments

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a rule change to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on March 27, 2015. Now, employees in legal same-sex marriages, regardless of where they live, will have the same rights as those in opposite-sex marriages to federal job-protected leave to care for a spouse with a serious health condition. The FMLA, enacted in 1993, entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

Under the new rule, eligibility for FMLA protections is based on the law of the state where the marriage was entered into. Known as the “place of celebration” provision, the new rule allows legally married same-sex couples to have the same federal family leave rights as opposite-sex couples, regardless of whether the state in which they currently reside recognizes such marriages. The rule change updates the definition of “spouse” so an employee in a legal same-sex marriage can take FMLA leave to care for their spouse, so long as the employee is eligible for FMLA. For more information on the FMLA revisions, including a fact sheet and frequently asked questions, click here.