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January 22, 2008
Bill to Expand FMLA Sees New Life

The U.S. House of Representatives has once again approved legislation that includes provisions that would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow eligible employees to use leave in certain circumstances when their spouse, child, or parent is called for active duty in the military.

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The provisions are included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R.4986). The House and Senate had approved a similar bill in late 2007, but President Bush vetoed the legislation for reasons unrelated to the proposed FMLA expansion. Lawmakers have since revised the bill in an attempt to address Bush's concerns.

One FMLA-related provision in the legislation would allow employees to take leave "because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation."

Another provision would amend FMLA to give more leave to employees whose family members are injured while serving in the military.

The provision reads: "An eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember shall be entitled to a total of 26 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period to care for the servicemember. The leave described in this paragraph shall only be available during a single 12-month period."

The legislation defines a covered service member as "a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the 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."

The legislation defines "serious injury or illness," in the case of a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, as an injury or illness incurred by the member in line of duty 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."

The legislation moves to the Senate, where lawmakers expect it to pass.

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