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New FMLA military leave: Who can take it?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. Does the new FMLA law for injured soldiers also apply to service members who were injured during past wars? And does the person have to be 100% disabled for their family members to be eligible for leave? — C.T., Missouri

A. The FMLA amendments, signed into law in January, offer up to 26 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave to employees caring for family members wounded in the course of military duty. The amendments aren’t limited to any particular war, conflict or deployment. Rather, they apply to any “covered service member,” defined as “a member of the armed forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves.” Thus, this law applies to current members of the armed forces.

As to your second question, a covered service member need not be 100% disabled (just as a civilian need not be 100% disabled) for their relative’s leave to fall under the FMLA. Rather, covered service members must meet the definition of “serious injury or illness,” which is broadly defined to apply to any injury or illness incurred in the line of active duty that “may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank or rating.”

Later this year, the U.S. Department of Labor will publish regulations that will clarify these issues further. For more details on the law, plus a free workplace poster, go to www.theHRSpecialist.com/FMLA_military_leave

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