Policies for military family leave must be in compliance with law

Q&A with Nathan Whatley

published in The Oklahoman | January 21, 2010

Labor and employment attorney and McAfee & Taft shareholder Nathan Whatley was featured in The Oklahoman discussing recent changes to the military family leave provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act that President Barack Obama signed into law Oct. 28 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010. The changes have to do with the circumstances in which employees will qualify for both military caregiver leave and qualifying emergency leave, Whatley said.

“Since early 2008, covered employers have been required to give FMLA leave to employees when they (1) experience a qualifying emergency situation arising out of a family member’s service in the military (such as the need to make childcare arrangements or attend to farewell or return arrangements on behalf of the service member) or (2) are needed to care for a family member who has been injured on active duty in the military,” Whatley told The Oklahoman. “Under the provisions enacted in 2008, an employee could take military caregiver leave only to care for injured service members who were current members of the armed forces. The original law specifically stated employees could not take leave to care for former service members.”

“Under the new amendments, employees are entitled to take military caregiver leave to care for family members who were injured on active duty in the military for up to five years after their separation from military service. The requirement that the family member still be in the military no longer applies.”

Whatley advised that covered employers “should notify employees of the new provisions and revise their policies and procedures to ensure they are in compliance with the new requirements.”