FMLA for Military Families Passes Congress

As expected, the Senate moved quickly on January 22, 2008 to approve a bill with provisions to expand the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include family members of U.S. soldiers.

The proposed expansion of the FMLA would allow eligible employees to use leave when an immediate family member is called for active duty in the military or is injured in the line duty.

The legislation now moves on to the White House, where officials have indicated that President Bush will sign the bill into law quickly. Specifically, the new legislation will require businesses to offer up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who are providing care to U.S. soldiers wounded in the line of duty. The measure also will require employers to provide 12 weeks of FMLA leave to the immediate family members (spouses, children or parents) of military personnel and reservists who have a "qualifying exigency." The Department of Labor will define "qualifying exigency."

The military family leave provisions included in the bill will be the first expansion of the FMLA since the law was first enacted in 1993.

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