The Department of Labor has released a new required poster regarding two recently created types of military family leave. On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 ("NDAA"). The NDAA amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (the "FMLA") by creating two new categories of military family leave. Section 585(a) of the NDAA provides for a 12 week "qualifying exigency" leave and a 26 week military caregiver leave.
A "qualifying exigency" leave entitles an employee to take up to 12 weeks of leave for a "qualifying exigency." This "qualifying exigency" must be due to a spouse, son, daughter, or parent being on active duty, or having been notified of an impending call to active duty, in support of a contingency operation. A "contingency operation" is a military operation in which 1) " members of the armed forces are or may become involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities against an enemy of the United States or against an opposing military force," or that 2) "results in the call or order to, or retention on, active duty of members of the uniformed services." The NDAA does not define what constitutes a "qualifying exigency," but does require the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations defining this term. While there have not been any regulations issued as of yet, the Department of Labor encourages employers in the interim to provide "qualifying exigency" leave to all eligible employees.
The servicemember family leave amendment applies to an "eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty on active duty." This military caregiver leave allows an employee to take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period in order to care for the servicemember.
A "covered servicemember" is defined as a member of the Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves 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." A "serious injury or illness" is defined as "an injury or illness incurred by the member in the line of duty while on active duty in the Armed Forces that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating." It is also worth noting that this amendment includes next of kin as a new category of covered employee. "Next of kin" is defined as the "nearest blood relative" of the covered servicemember. While there is still uncertainty concerning "qualifying exigency" leave, military caregiver leave has been defined and in place since the NDAA’s enactment.
The Department of Labor now requires covered employers to display a new poster insert addressing "qualifying exigency" and military caregiver leave, which can be found the Department of Labor’s FMLA poster website. Also, interested employers can learn more about the recent NDAA amendments, as well as review text of the amended version of the FMLA, on the Department of Labor’s FMLA amendments website.