DOL Issues Final Rule to Expand FMLA Protections for Same-sex Spouses

On Feb. 25, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule that expands protections under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for same-sex spouses. This final rule, effective March 27, 2015, revises the definition of “spouse” under the FMLA to:

  • Adopt a “place of celebration” rule, which is based on where the marriage was entered into, in place of the “state of residence” rule that applied under prior DOL guidance; and
  • Expressly include same-sex marriages in addition to common-law marriages and encompasses same sex marriages entered into abroad that could have been entered into in at least one U.S. state.

Under the final rule, eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouses, regardless of where they live.

Employers should review and update their FMLA policies and procedures as necessary, and they should train employees who are involved in the leave management process on the expanded rules for same-sex spouses under the FMLA.

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