When working with our Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Military Program at various installations across the state, it became apparent that many of our employees were unaware of the types of leave that are available. Approximately half of our Extension Military Program personnel consist of families of active duty service members, the other half are families of veterans. When we employ these types of individuals it is important that not only our Agency understand the types of leave available to the employee, but that our employees are also aware. If you are a military family member or a military caregiver currently employed, there is new legislation regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that could be beneficial to your family.
In 2010 FMLA was amended by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to expand leave rights to employees with family members in the military depending on the individual’s circumstances. Under the new legislation by NDAA, FMLA includes two new benefit entitlements for military families: (1) Qualifying Exigency Leave and (2) Military Caregiver Leave.
Let’s take a closer look at which type of leave would best fit you and your service member’s situation.
Qualifying Exigency Leave
Eligible employees who fall under the Qualifying Exigency Leave can take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave yearly for reasons related to the call to active duty of covered service member’s spouses, children, or parents. Qualifications for Exigency Leave include:
- Service member has received a week or less for orders of deployment
- Service member is involved in military events and/or related activities
- Urgent child care or school activities is warranted
- Financial and legal tasks related to family member’s active duty
- Counseling for the employee or child who isn’t already covered by FMLA
- Time spent with service member on rest and recuperation (R&R) breaks during deployment
- Post-deployment activities
- Providing care to parent of the service member when the parent is incapable of self-care and the service member necessitates a change in the existing care arrangement for the parent
If you qualify for Exigency Leave you must give reasonable notice to your employers upon seeking leave. Employers may require certification for Qualifying Exigency Leave, in which you will need to provide a copy of your service member’s active duty orders.
For more information on Qualifying Exigency Leave go to the Department of Labor’s, Qualifying Exigency Leave under FMLA fact sheet.
Military Caregiver Leave
If you are caring for an active duty service member or veteran that has been wounded, Military Caregiver Leave is available. Military Caregiver Leave allows employees up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for seriously injured or ill “covered” service members. However, eligible employees may take an additional 26 weeks of leave in a different 12-month period to care for the service member in the event another injury is sustained. Employees may also take Military Caregiver Leave to care for families members who sustained a qualifying injury for up to five years after they have been discharged from service. Eligible employees include the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or “next of kin” of the covered service member.
Service members who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness may be covered under the following qualifications:
- Member of the Armed Forces
- Discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable
- Discharged within the five-year period before the eligible employee first takes FMLA military caregiver leave to care for the service member
If you qualify for Military Caregiver leave you may be required to provide certification by an authorized health care provider for employers to allow for leave to care for your service member. Health care providers can be from the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, TRICARE, or non-military affiliated providers. In addition to authorization from your healthcare provider, you may be required to submit documentation of family relationship in order to complete the certification process.
To see if you qualify for FMLA leave for your current service member or veteran check out the following fact sheets provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.
By knowing the types of leave available to you, it will not only help alleviate the many emotions that come with being part of the military community, but it will help you to know your options as an employee in the event your service member is deployed or wounded.
This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on May 22, 2015.