The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was a major first step in the effort to recognize and support the work of caring for families. However, due to significant coverage gaps, more than 40% of workers are ineligible for FMLA leave. Furthermore, many workers who are covered by the FMLA cannot afford to take unpaid leave or do not know about their rights under the statute.
A Foundation and A Blueprint: Building the Workplace Leave Laws We Need After Twenty-Five Years of the Family & Medical Leave Act
Know Your FMLA Rights
Far too many workers are unaware of their rights under the FMLA. A Better Balance has prepared two fact sheets with detailed information. In addition to the FMLA, you may have rights to family and medical leave under state law. Visit our know-your-rights database to find out more.
- Know Your Rights: The Family and Medical Leave Act (October 2016)
- What Should LGBT Families Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act? (June 2015)
- What Should Veterans & Military Families Know? (July 2017)
FMLA Regulations and Department of Labor Interpretations on LGBT Families
On June 22, 2010, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued an interpretation clarifying that the FMLA’s definition of “son or daughter” is broad enough to include LGBT parents who have no biological or legal relationship to the children they are raising. Click here to read the DOL interpretation, and click here to learn more about the FMLA rights of LGBT families.
In June 2014, the Obama administration announced that it will establish a more LGBT-inclusive definition of “spouse” under the FMLA. Under the definition of “spouse” proposed in June 2014 and finalized in March 2015. To learn more, please see the following resources:
- A Better Balance’s comments to the U.S. Department of Labor in support of the proposed rule change
- A Better Balance’s comments to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in support of the proposed rule change, as applies to federal workers
- A Better Balance also generated many supportive comments by circulating a sample comment for other groups and advocates to adapt and submit to the Department of Labor.
The Supreme Court’s decision in June 2015 for nationwide marriage equality means that same-sex spouses will be fully recognized under the FMLA!
FMLA Regulations and Expansion Regarding Military Families
In January 2008, the President signed into law the Military Expansion for Injured Servicemembers Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. The law provided important family leave benefits to military families and constituted the first expansion of the FMLA since 1993. On November 17, 2008, the Department of Labor released new, two-part final FMLA regulations that implemented and clarified the Military Expansion for Injured Servicemembers Act but also made it more difficult for other workers to access needed FMLA leave. To learn more about these FMLA regulations, please see the following resources:
- A Better Balance’s comments on the proposed regulatory changes
- Department of Labor’s Employee Protections under the Family and Medical Leave Fact Sheet