The Family Medical Leave Act and Benefit Plans: What comes first – the Law or the Employer’s Established Policy?

An employer that employs 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year is subject to the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Therefore, often when I am reviewing an employee benefits plan or policy I flag language that states something like: “You may be eligible to continue your coverage pursuant to the FMLA. Contact the company for more information.”  What does this mean?

Group Health Plan

For purposes of the FMLA, a group health plan is generally a plan that provides health care to employees, former employees, or families of such employees or former employees. Read More ›

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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.  Read More ›

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FMLA to Apply to All Employees in Same-Sex Marriages

When the U.S. Supreme Court declared DOMA unconstitutional in United States v. Windsor, many federal benefits that were previously denied to individuals in same-sex marriages became available to those individuals.  However, job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) was not one of them.

Generally, an employee is able to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a sick family member (including a spouse).  For purposes of FMLA, “spouse” is defined as a husband or wife as defined or recognized under state law for purposes of marriage in the state where the employee resides.  This is known as the “state of residence” standard, which means that an employee validly married to a same-sex spouse cannot receive FMLA protections if they live in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. Read More ›

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