The change to the FMLA (Family Medical & Leave Act) that goes into effect March 27, 2015 will have an impact on businesses in our area.
The biggest problem facing employers like you is not being aware of the changes. As a result, you or your team may make uninformed decisions that could lead to financial and legal problems, and be damaging to your professional reputation.
So, let’s take a look at what changed, and how it affects you and your company…
In 2013, the Supreme Court determined that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.
After what many press releases across the country dubbed “a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law”, the President instructed the Cabinet to review related federal statutes, including federal benefits and programs.
When the FMLA came under review, it was determined that a change needed to be made to offer those same rights to same-sex spouses.
Before the Change…
The FMLA granted unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons to employees of covered employers to care for same-sex spouses ONLY if the employee resided in a state that recognized same-sex marriage.
After the change
The FMLA provides all FMLA rights to all legally married same-sex couples. They changed the definition of “legally married” to be based on a “place of celebration” instead of a “state or residence” This means that if the “place of celebration” is a state that supports same-sex marriage, then the couple is included in FMLA protection even if the state they live in doesn’t recognize their union as legal.
What This Means For Your Business
As an employer, FMLA means that if an employee qualifies for leave, you are required to keep their job available to them for up to 12 full weeks in a 12 month period.
Since neither Tennessee or Georgia allow same-sex marriage, you were previously not required to extend FMLA protection to some of your employees. Now you will have to extend that protection if you have employees that were legally married in another state.
Many employers chose to offer similar leave to their employees that had significant others of the same sex, even they were not legally required to do so. In those cases, the employee could actually get more leave than a heterosexual employee since there were no legal statutes in place. If you were one of these employers, then you now have protection to ensure that all of your employees are bound to the same 12 weeks in a 12 month time period for their leave under FMLA regardless of sexual orientation.
You can view the full Fact Sheet from the Department of Labor at: