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- Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

Military Family Leave - Introduction

Note: DOL published new FMLA regulations (effective March 8, 2013) and as a result some FMLA provisions have changed. Leave taken prior to March 8, 2013 may be subject to previous regulations. We encourage you to review Coverage and Eligibility and Employee and Employer Rights and Responsibilities. If you have any questions regarding your ability to take FMLA military leave, please contact your local district office.

The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 (2008 NDAA) created the military family leave provisions of the FMLA and the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010 (2010 NDAA) further amended these provisions.

Military Caregiver Leave

The 2008 NDAA permitted an employee who is a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves (current servicemember), to take up to 26 workweeks of military caregiver leave to care for that current servicemember who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty. This provision became effective on January 28, 2008.

The 2010 NDAA amended military caregiver leave by expanding the definition of a serious injury or illness of a current servicemember to include serious injuries or illnesses that existed prior to service and that were aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty. This provision became effective on October 28, 2009.

Military caregiver leave was also extended to eligible employees whose family members are recent veterans with serious injuries or illnesses incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty, and that manifested before or after the veteran left active duty. This provision became effective with the 2013 FMLA regulations on March 8, 2013.

Qualifying Exigency Leave

The 2008 NDAA allowed an employee to take qualifying exigency leave for reasons arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent was on active duty, or had been notified of an impending call or order to active duty, in support of a contingency operation. Under the terms of the 2008 NDAA, qualifying exigency leave was available only to a family member of a military member in the National Guard or Reserves and did not extend to family members of military members in the Regular Armed Forces. This provision became effective on January 16, 2009.

The 2010 NDAA expanded qualifying exigency leave to include eligible employees with a spouse, parent, son or daughter serving in the Regular Armed Forces. Additionally, the military member must now be deployed to a foreign country for an eligible employee to take FMLA leave. This provision became effective on October 28, 2009.

The FMLA now provides:

  • military caregiver leave, which helps families of covered servicemembers (current servicemembers and certain veterans) with a serious injury or illness by providing up to 26 workweeks of FMLA job-protected leave in a single 12-month period to certain eligible family members to care for the covered servicemember; and
  • qualifying exigency leave, which helps families of military members in the Regular Armed Forces, as well as the National Guard and Reserves, manage their affairs when the military member is going to be or has been deployed to a foreign country by providing up to 12 workweeks of FMLA job-protected leave in the applicable 12-month leave period to certain eligible family members.

An employer may require an employee to submit certification supporting a request for qualifying exigency or military caregiver leave.

To learn more about these entitlements and the rights and responsibilities of both employees and employers, select:

You may also view the FMLA Military Leave Glossary or Return to the Main Menu.