Proposal extends medical leave to veterans' families

Family members of veterans would be entitled to the same leave afforded to family members of current military service members under an amendment to the Family and Medical Leave Act announced Monday.

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, along with first lady Michelle Obama, said the Labor Department is proposing statutory amendments to FMLA that would allow a related caregiver to take leave for up to five years after the service member leaves the military. The current law, passed in 1993, affords this only to family members of those currently serving in the military.

The proposal also extends “qualifying exigency leave” to employees whose family members serve in the regular armed forces. Currently, this applies only to families of National Guard members and reservists.

“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, support and opportunities they need and have rightfully earned,” Solis said. “The proposed revisions announced today are an important step toward keeping that promise.”

Military caregivers, including those of veterans, will be allowed 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with illness or injury if the caregiver is an eligible employee and is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin. Under the proposed amendment, the leave allowance can apply to conditions that may not arise until after the veteran’s service.

The proposal also extends the amount of time an employee can take off work to spend with a service member who is on medical leave from five days to 15 days.

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