Labor Dept. updates Family and Medical Leave Act to include same-sex spouses

Staff Reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday issued a final rule revising the regulatory definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to include married, same-sex couples.

Labor-DeptThe FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

The Final Rule amends the regulatory definition of spouse under the FMLA so that eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take federal job-protected family and medical leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live.

Previously, the definition didn’t apply to same-sex couples who resided in a state that does not recognize such unions.

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Now, the definition applies in all 50 states and means that family medical leave must be extended to same-sex spouses.

“The basic promise of the FMLA is that no one should have to choose between the job and income they need, and caring for a loved one,” says DOL Secretary Thomas Perez in the statement.

According to the Williams Institute, the new rule could affect up to 118,000 people in same-sex relationships in the United States.

The effective date for the final rule is March 27, 2015.

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