Family Medical Leave Act and Veterans

A recent National Law Review headline alerted employers to update their Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies. The federal government revised theses guidelines in 2013 to expand military leaves of absences. If you or a family member is a veteran or in the military, know which benefits apply to you.

(Photo Credit: Injury Lawyers San Luis Obispo/Flickr)

The Department of Labor's Fact Sheet #28(M)b clarifies and explains the newest FMLA benefits that are available to the military and to veterans.

Military Caregiver Leave Entitlements

Family members of covered veterans with serious injuries or illnesses may take up to 26 weeks in any twelve month period to care for the veteran. A veteran is covered if he or she was a member of the armed forces, including National Guard or Reserves, whose discharge or release was not dishonorable.

If an employee wishes to take FMLA leave to care for a family member who is in the military or a veteran, the injured person must have been discharged within the five-year period before the employee first takes family medical leave to care for him or her. In other words, if you are a veteran who was discharged eight years ago and get sick tomorrow, you are not a covered veteran.

There are caveats and exceptions for veterans who were discharged prior to March 8, 2013.

Serious Injury or Illness

The serious injury or illness must have either been incurred while on active duty or a pre-existing condition that was aggravated while on active duty. Serious injury or illness may be either physical, psychological, or both.

Next of Kin

If a veteran does not have a spouse, or parents, or children, other family members may be considered "next of kin" for purposes of taking this leave to care for the veteran. Sometimes this is a blood relative who has been designated, in writing, as next of kin by the veteran for purposes of FMLA.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you taken leave under the FMLA? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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