HR pros should review their firmsâ FMLA policies â as well as any other related materials â ASAP.
Thatâs because the DOL just updated the definition of âspouseâ for FMLA purposes to reflect the Supreme Courtâs ruling in United States. v. Windsor.
As HR pros likely know extremely well at this point, the High Courtâs ruling essentially struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that limited the definition of marriage for federal purposes as an institution between members of the opposite sex.
Since that ruling, a majority of states have passed legislation of their own to legalize same-sex marriage.
âPlace of celebrationâ provision
Now, with the DOLâs rule change, any eligible employee who is in a legal same-sex marriage will be able to take federal FMLA leave to care for his or her spouse regardless of the state in which that employee resides.
In other words, FMLA eligibility is based on the state where the same-sex couple entered into the marriage and not where that couple currently resides.
In the DOLâs press release, the agency referred to the rule change as the âplace of celebrationâ provision under the FMLA.
This is important because, before the change, the definition of âspouseâ for FMLA purposes did not include same-sex spouses that currently resided in a state that didnât recognize same-sex marriage.
So even if an employee entered into a legal same-sex marriage, that employee couldnât take advantage of FMLA protections to care for his or her spouse unless he or she lived in one of the states that recognized same-sex marriage.
This had been referred to as the âstate of residenceâ rule.
âSame rights and protectionsâ
In the feds announcement, DOL Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez reiterated some of the same talking points he first delivered when he unveiled a proposal to change the rule last summer by stating: âThe basic promise of the FMLA is that no one should have to choose between the job and income they need, and care for a loved one.â
Perez went on to say that:
âWith our action today, we extend that promise so that no matter who you love, you will receive the same rights and protections as everyone else. All eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages, regardless of where they live, can now deal with a serious medical and family situation like all families â without the threat of job loss.â
For more HR News, please visit: Alert: Same sex-spouses now covered under FMLA in all states
Source: News from HR Morning