DOL Changes FMLA Eligibility for Same-Sex Marriages

Feb 23 2015 - FMLA/CFRA - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

The Department of Labor announced a rule change that will extend protections of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to all eligible employees in legal same sex-sex marriages to care for their spouses, regardless of where they live. The Final Rule is effective March 27, 2015.

The DOL moved from a “state of residence” rule to a “place of celebration” rule. The DOL will amend the regulatory definition of “spouse” under the FMLA to look at the law of the state where the marriage was entered into, regardless of the law of the state where the employee currently resides.

According to the Department of Labor, the “place of celebration” provision “allows all legally married couples, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, to have consistent federal family leave rights regardless of whether the state in which they currently reside recognizes such marriage.”

The DOL’s past guidance stated that the term “spouse” for FMLA purposes applied only to same-sex spouses that reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.

The DOL also released additional information on the revisions, including fact sheets and a FAQ document.

Several other federal agencies also use the “place of celebration” rule.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

CalChamber members can visit the HR Library’s Family and Medical Leave section for more information on the FMLA. Not a CalChamber member? Learn how HRCalifornia can help you.

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