The Family and Medical Leave Act has now extended its coverage to include Married Same-Sex Couples!

The office of Personnel Management issued a final rule revising the definition of “spouse” in its regulations on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), to include legally married same-sex couples.  The announcement states, “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 FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live. This will ensure that the FMLA will give spouses in same-sex marriages the same ability as all spouses to fully exercise their FMLA rights.”

Under the FMLA, employers are required to give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of consecutive, or in some circumstances intermittent, unpaid sick leave. FMLA was designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons.

To qualify for FMLA, an employee must work for a covered employer (private employer who has 50 or more employees or any public agency) and has worked for at least 12 months, and has worked a minimum of 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave.  The employee must work where at least 50 employees are employed at that specific location or within 75 miles of the location.
While FMLA is only the beginning of the newly changed definition of marriage when it applies to federal benefits, there are still a few federal agencies such as social security benefits and veterans benefits which remain at risk due to the states that don’t allow same-sex marriage. This jeopardizes the spouse’s right to apply and receive dependent benefits or survivor pensions. By the FMLA adopting the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor, in which the Court defines marriage as the unity between two people of any gender, it is slowly breaking down the barriers of long standing discrimination that the LGBT community have endured.