The recently passed House Defense Authorization Bill includes an amendment by U.S. Representative Jason Altmire (D-Pa) and Tom Udall (D- NM) that allows spouses, parents, or children of military personnel who are currently serving or are called to active duty to take FMLA leave for issues arising from deployment.
The amendment does not increase the amount of FMLA available to eligible employees. It allows eligible family members to use FMLA leave in one additional set of circumstances- to deal with issues directly related to or resulting from the deployment of a family member. For example, the wife of a deployed service member would take FMLA leave to arrange for childcare; the parents of a deployed service member could take FMLA time to see their child off or welcome him or her home; or the husband of a service member could use FMLA time to attend pre-deployment briefings, family support meetings and reintegration briefings.
The amendment to the FMLA is not yet law. President Bush had threatened to veto Defense funding bill because of the inclusion of a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Since the House bill no longer includes a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, it will be interesting to see if the military families amendment of the FMLA is included in the House-Senate compromise bill that ultimately emerges from Congress. Stay tuned!