FMLA for Veterans and Armed Forces

by Deborah Z Mark


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year.  It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.

The NDAA: an FMLA Amendment

On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Among other things, it amends the FMLA of 1993 to permit a “spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin” to take up to 26 workweeks of leave to care for 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 NDAA also permits an employee to take FMLA leave for “any qualifying exigency (as the Secretary of Labor shall, by regulation, determine) 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.”

Who is Eligible?

FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees.

Employees are eligible for leave (for certain reasons) if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, or at least 1250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), a service member returning to work would be entitled to FMLA leave if the hours that he or she would have worked for the civilian employer during the period of military service would have met the FMLA eligibility threshold.

A service member who is reemployed is entitled to the rights and benefits that he or she would have attained if employment would have been continuous.  (However, a service member would not be entitled to rights and benefits that are considered as a form of short-term compensation, such as accrued vacation.)

Recognition of the rights and responsibilities established by USERRA will facilitate reentry into the workforce by those who stood ready to serve our nation.

Thank You

Thank you to all members of our Armed Forces: past, present, and future.

And a special thanks to my dad: veteran of WWII and Korea, retired Reserves and National Guard.

Your service is appreciated, more than you will ever know.

If you have any questions regarding FMLA, call managestaff. We’ll help.


It’s what we do.

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