Employers Take Note:on March 27, 2015, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new rule amending the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) definition of spouse takes effect. All eligible employees in legal marriages (including same-sex and common law marriages) will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of whether they live in a state that recognizes their marital status.
The DOL’s Final Rule revises the definition of spouse to use a “place of celebration” criteria, which looks to the law of the place where the marriage was entered into to determine whether an individual is a “spouse” under the FMLA. The revised definition expressly includes employees in legally recognized same-sex marriages. Under the Final Rule, spouse means a husband or wife as defined or recognized in the state where the employee was married and includes individuals in a same-sex marriage or common law marriage. Spouse also includes a husband or wife in a marriage that was validly entered into outside of the United States if it could have been entered into in at least one state. This change to the place of celebration rule allows all legally married couples (whether opposite-sex, same-sex, or married under common law) to have consistent federal family leave rights regardless of where they live.
The Final Rule also includes editorial changes to make references to husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers gender-neutral where appropriate, so that they apply equally to opposite-sex and same-sex spouses. These changes do not affect other provisions of the FMLA, such as eligibility, notice, and certification.
Related Issues of Significance
If you have questions regarding how these revisions to the FMLA will impact your business please do not hesitate to contact any of the lawyers at The Lowenbaum Partnership, L.L.C.
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