Labor and Employment

Employment Leave for Families of Military Members

Are you a family member of someone who's active in the military? You may need to help the service member with a life event or an injury. This help can take time and may be very difficult if you have a full-time job.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that can provide medical and family leave to eligible employees. Recent updates to the FMLA include leave entitlements for military families. You may be eligible under the FMLA for leave from your job to help your military family member.

What Employers Are Required to Provide Military Family Leave?

Not every employer is required to provide military family leave to eligible employees. Only employers under the FMLA are faced with this requirement. Employers that must provide military family leave include:

  • Public agencies, including state, local and federal employers
  • Local educational agencies (schools)
  • Private employers that employ 50 or more employees

What Employees Are Eligible for Military Family Leave?

Not every employee is eligible for military family leave. You must be eligible under the FMLA. There are three requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for leave:

  • You've worked for your employer for a total of 12 months
  • You've worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months
  • You've worked at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles

Types of Military Family Leave

There may be many reasons why you need leave from your work to help a military family member. The FMLA has two types of military family leave. The first is called qualifying exigency leave. The second is called military caregiver leave.

Qualifying Exigency Leave

You're entitled to military leave for any qualifying exigency that arises out of the fact a military family member is on active duty or called to active duty status. The service member must be your spouse, son, daughter or parent. You can take up to 12 work weeks of leave during a 12-month period.

The Department of Labor has created a list of qualifying exigencies. Some examples include:

  • Short notice deployment
  • Post-deployment activities
  • Military event and related activities
  • Child care and related activities
  • Financial and legal arrangements
  • Counseling
  • Rest and recuperation

Military Caregiver Leave

You can take leave to care for your military family member if he has a serious injury or illness. The service member must be your spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin. The serious injury or illness must have been incurred in the line of duty while on active duty.

You can take up to 26 work weeks of leave during a single 12-month period. Unused weeks aren't carried over into the next 12-month period. You can be eligible for caregiver leave and qualifying exigency leave in the same year. However, the combined total can't be more than 26 weeks.

Notice of Military Family Leave to Employers

An employee can't just take military family leave without providing notice to his employer. You must provide notice for qualifying exigency leave as soon as practicable. Thirty days advance notice is required to take leave for a planned medical treatment for a serious injury or illness. If 30 days advance notice is impossible, you must provide notice as soon as practicable under all the circumstances.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Am I entitled to military family leave if my stepchild was injured while on active duty?
  • How much notice do I need to give my employer if I want to take military family leave?
  • How much military family leave can I take if there are multiple qualifying exigencies?
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