FMLA Rights Now Extended to Same-Sex Married Couples

The Department of Labor has announced that legal rights given to married couples under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will now be granted to same-sex couples who marry in states that recognize same-sex marriage.

Enacted in 1993, the FMLA allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for specific medical and family reasons, including a spouse’s illness or serious medical condition, without losing their job or health insurance benefits.

Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in the District of Columbia and 37 states, including:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

The new rule amends the definition of “spouse” under the FMLA to provide spousal leave for eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages, regardless of where they currently live.  It does not apply to same-sex partners in civil unions or domestic partnerships.  The new rule takes effect on March 27, 2015.

Employers in states where same-sex marriage is not legally recognized will still need to comply with the new rule if a same-sex married employee was legally married in another state.  You should consult with a qualified business attorney to understand how this new rule impacts current company policies regarding FMLA and to revise employee handbooks accordingly.

We can help you keep your company in compliance with the latest employment law rules and regulations.  To learn more about our personal approach to business planning, call us today to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit.