State of Celebration Standard Now in Effect for FMLA

In a previous blog, I wrote about regulations issued by the Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposing to revise the regulatory definition of “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) to be based on the law of the place where a marriage was performed, which is known as the “state of celebration” standard.  The DOL finalized the proposed regulations by issuing a Final Rule on February 25, 2015.

Effective March 27, 2015, the regulatory definition of “spouse” under the FMLA was changed from a “state of residence” standard to a “state of celebration” standard.  This means that employers must now look to the law of the place in which the marriage was performed rather than the law of the state in which the employee resides.  As a result, employees in legal same-sex marriages can now take FMLA leave to care for their spouse.

Now that the revised definition of “spouse” is effective, employers may want to review their FMLA policies to ensure that all eligible employees are being given access to FMLA leave when available.  For more information on the Final Rule, please see the DOL’s fact sheet.

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