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How to Handle Family Military Leave Requests Under the FMLA

Author: Eric B. Meyer, Dilworth Paxson LLP

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as originally passed in 1993, requires that an employer provide unpaid, job-protected leave for eligible employees for one of four reasons:

  1. The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
  2. The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the child within one year of adoption or placement;
  3. To care for the employee's spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition; and
  4. A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job.

In 2008, two types of family military leave were added to the FMLA:

  • Military (or Qualifying) Exigency Leave. Designed to provide leave to an employee under certain circumstances when a family member who is a military servicemember has been deployed to a foreign country or is preparing to deploy to a foreign country; and
  • Military Caregiver Leave. Designed to provide leave to an employee who is caring for a seriously injured or ill current military servicemember or veteran in the employee's family.

The requirements for family military leave differ slightly from other types of FMLA leave. An employer should follow the steps below to understand how to properly handle an employee's request for either type of family military leave under the FMLA.