Earlier this morning, the Department of Labor proposed a new rule that would change who qualifies as an employee’s spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This proposed change would allow an employee to take unpaid FMLA leave to care for the serious medical condition of a same-sex spouse, regardless of whether the couple’s marriage is legally recognized in the state where they reside. The Office of Personnel Management also announced its intention extend FMLA access to all federal employees with same-sex spouses, regardless of where they live. Without these changes, employees could only take FMLA leave to care for a sick or injured spouse if the state in which they lived legally recognized their marriage. Instead, employees throughout the country will be able to access these benefits to care for their same-sex spouses.
FMLA was the first and, to date, is the only federal law enacted to help American families balance the needs of their loved ones and their job. Since its implementation in 1993, FMLA has been used by more than thirty million Americans to take leave to care for a sick or injured family member. Before the law was passed, employees were forced to choose between caring for a loved one and their job and financial security. Through this proposed change, the Department of Labor will help ensure that the hundreds of thousands of married same-sex couples throughout the United States can access FMLA family leave, and are not forced to make the untenable choice between protecting their job and caring for a family member in need.
You can read the Department of Labor’s press release here.