The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Employees that are eligible under the Act can take up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period for the birth, adoption or placement of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or because they are unable to work due to their own serious health condition.

The FMLA was changed in 2008 to also give similar benefits to eligible employees who are the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a servicemember in the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces with a serious injury or illness that happened in the line of duty. These individuals are permitted to take up to 26 workweeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period to care for the family member, known as "military caregiver leave." In addition, the amendments added a special military family leave entitlement to allow eligible employees whose spouse, child, or parent is called up for active duty in the National Guard or Reserves to take up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave for “qualifying exigencies” related to the call-up of their family member ("qualifying exigency leave").

Recent Changes Amendments to the FMLA

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 amendments broadened the FMLA’s military caregiver leave and qualifying exigency leave provisions.  This legislation extended military caregiver leave to eligible employees whose family members are recent veterans with serious injuries or illnesses.  Notably, the 2010 amendments redefined the definition of a serious injury or illness to include serious injuries or illnesses that result from preexisting conditions.  These amendments also expanded qualifying exigency leave to eligible employees with family members serving in the Regular Armed Forces.  A requirement was added that for all qualifying exigency leave, the military member must be deployed to a foreign country.

Major Provisions of the FMLA Statutory Amendments NPRM

The major provisions of the NPRM include:

  • The extension of military caregiver leave to eligible family members of recent veterans with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty;
  • A flexible, three-part definition for serious injury or illness of a veteran;
  • The extension of military caregiver leave to cover serious injuries or illnesses for both current servicemembers and veterans that result from the aggravation during military service of a preexisting condition;
  • The extension of qualifying exigency leave to eligible employees with covered family members serving in the Regular Armed Forces; and
  • Inclusion of a foreign deployment requirement for qualifying exigency leave for the deployment of all servicemembers (National Guard, Reserves, Regular Armed Forces).

To review the proposed rule and submit comments, visit the federal e-rulemaking portal at and search by regulation identification number 1235-AA03.

If you have specific questions about the FMLA and how it affects your business, contact Ravinder S. Nagi, Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Group at BoltNagi PC [Telephone (340) 774-2944/Email].  BoltNagi PC is one of the largest firms in the United States Virgin Islands, and has skilled attorneys with years of experience and success with labor and employment as well as full array of business legal concerns.