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DOL Issues Final Rule Amending FMLA Definition of “Spouse” to Include Same-Sex Marriages

DOL Issues Final Rule Amending FMLA Definition of “Spouse” to Include Same-Sex Marriages


The U.S. Department of Labor has released your final rule amending the regulating meaning of “spouse” underneath the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). We earlier reported around the DOL’s suggested rule for this effect, that is now final and can become effective on March 27, 2015.

The amendment changes the phrase “spouse” to incorporate people in same-sex partnerships when the marriage was valid within the put it was joined into no matter where they live. Prior to the new rule was released, the FMLA and it is associated rules defined “spouse” like a spouse as recognized underneath the laws and regulations from the condition where the worker resides. The brand new meaning of spouse rather looks towards the law from the jurisdiction where the marriage was joined into and specifically includes same-sex married people. The ultimate rule thus adopts a “place of celebration” rule as opposed to a “state of residence” rule for the phrase “spouse” underneath the FMLA.

Based on the Department of labor, the amended regulating meaning of spouse permits “eligible employees in legal same-sex partnerships [to] have the ability to take FMLA leave to look after their spouse or member of the family, no matter where they live.” The Department of labor has additionally recommended the new rule will lessen the administrative burden on multi-condition companies, who no more need to consider an employee’s condition of residence and also the laws and regulations of this condition in figuring out the employee’s eligibility for FMLA leave.

The brand new rule was motivated through the U . s . States Top Court decision in U . s . States v. Windsor, which found unconstitutional individuals provisions from the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited federal recognition of same-sex partnerships. We formerly talked about the use implications of Windsor here.

A few of the additional features from the new rule include:

  • The new rule encompasses an employee in a same-sex marriage entered into abroad as long as the marriage is valid in the place it was entered into and could have been entered into in at least one state in the United States.
  • The new rule encompasses employees in a common law marriage as long as the common law marriage became valid in a state that recognizes such common law marriage.
  • An employee in a legal same-sex marriage can now take FMLA leave to care for his or her stepchild whereas before, an employee in a legal same-sex marriage could only take FMLA leave to care for his or her stepchild for whom the employee stood in loco parentis.
  • Similarly, an employee can now take FMLA to care for his stepparent who is the employee’s parent’s same-sex spouse, even if the stepparent never stood in loco parentis to the employee.

The full text of the DOL’s Final Rule can be found at


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