Family Medical Leave Act Rule Update

FMLA Overview


The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a federal labor law that is defined by the US Department of Labor (DOL) and administered by the Wage and Hour Division. The law is intended to create a work/life balance for employees. As a result, the FMLA requires companies with fifty or more employees to provide workers with leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as serious health conditions, to care for sick family members, or to care for newborn or adopted children. Employees are eligible to take twelve or twenty-six workweeks of leave in a twelve-month period, depending on the reason. To be eligible, an employee must have been with the organization for at least twelve months and have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past year. The FMLA encompasses both public and private organizations but excludes certain categories, such as elected officials and their staff members.


FMLA Final Rule


Earlier this year, the DOL issued a Final Rule on February 25, 2015, revising the regulatory definition of spouse under the FMLA. The Final Rule went into effect on March 27, 2015, and requires that the definition of a spouse must include same-sex marriages. Regardless of where they live, eligible employees who have spouses of the same-sex are now able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouses or family members. Highlights of the Final Rule from the FMLA website ( include:


  • “The Department has moved from a “state of residence” rule to a “place of celebration” rule for the definition of spouse under the FMLA regulations. The Final Rule changes the regulatory definition of spouse in 29 CFR §§ 825.102 and 825.122(b) to look to the law of the place in which the marriage was entered into, as opposed to the law of the state in which the employee resides. A place of celebration rule allows all legally married couples, whether opposite-sex or same-sex or married under common law, to have consistent federal family leave rights regardless of where they live.”
  • “The Final Rule’s definition of spouse expressly includes individuals in lawfully recognized same-sex and common law marriages and marriages that were validly entered into outside of the United States if they could have been entered into in at least one state.”


With the new ruling, at StaffScapes we encourage employers to update existing policies, as well as train leave administrators and supervisors on the new rule. If you are unsure on how to make the appropriate amendments or conduct a proper training, contact StaffScapes for help.

For more information on the Final Rule, please see the Fact Sheet.