Final Rule Extends FMLA Rights to Same-sex Couples

Compliance BulletinOn Feb. 25, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule that expands the definition of “spouse” under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The expanded definition of “spouse” allows eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages to take FMLA leave to care for their spouses or family members, regardless of where they live. This final rule replaces the DOL’s prior guidance that allowed eligible employees to take leave to care for same-sex spouses only if employees resided in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.

According to the DOL, the final rule allows all legally married couples, whether opposite-sex, same-sex, or common-law, to have consistent federal family leave rights regardless of where they live. The final rule becomes effective on March 27, 2015. To comply with the FMLA’s expanded definition of “spouse,” employers should review and update their FMLA policies (as necessary) and train their workforce on the expanded eligibility rules for FMLA leave.

See the Compliance Bulletin – DOL Issues Final Rule to Expand FMLA Protections for Same-sex Spouses.

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