Today First Lady Michelle Obama joined US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to announce proposed regulations to update the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for military families. The changes would entitle family members take up to twelve weeks of exigency leave to assist a relative in the armed forces who is deployed on short notice, in order to handle financial, legal, or childcare resulting from the deployment. Currently exigency leave is only granted to family members of those in the National Guard and the military reserves who are called up.

Under the Obama proposal, family members would also be allowed to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a service member with a serious illness or injury as a result of military service. The proposed revisions would be applicable to military caregivers for up to five years after their family member has left the military and would also enable caregivers to take FMLA leave from work to provide care for conditions that did not appear until after the service member left the military. The extended FMLA provisions were previously only applicable to caregivers of currently serving service members.

In addition, Family and Medical Leave Act protections would be extended to flight crews, including flight attendants, who had previously been excluded from the ability to take the unpaid, job-protected leave because their work schedules did not fit into a traditional work week.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stated, “Keeping the basic promise of America alive means ensuring that workers, from our servicemen and servicewomen who keep us safe at home to the flight crews who keep us safe in the skies, have the resources and opportunities they need and have rightfully earned. The proposed revisions the announced today are an important step toward keeping that promise.”

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Comments may be submitted electronically at through April 11, 2008. Enter the words “Family and Medical Leave Act” (including quotation marks) in the “COMMENT OR SUBMISSION” field to make a comment or view submitted comments.

Department of Labor Statement 1/30/12; Department of Labor Fact Sheet 1/30/12; USA Today 1/30/12

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