On January 28, 2008, the FMLA was amended to allow eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember suffering from a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty while on active duty. The leave, however, is unpaid. That may change.
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), with 12 cosponsors, introduced S. 543, the Veteran and Servicemember Support Act of 2009. The Act directs the VA, in collaboration with the Secretary of Defense, to set up a two-year pilot program at six facilities nationwide to train family member caregivers who agree to provide caregiver services to eligible veterans and members of the Armed Forces. Caregivers who complete the training program will be certified as caregivers. The program proposes to pay eligible family caregivers a reasonable amount for providing care service. The amount will vary depending on the amount and intensity of care needed.
If enacted, the legislation could lead to the federal government (at the moment) paying certified family members to care for their seriously injured or ill coveredservicemembers in the Armed Forces. If the FMLA applies, the combination would result in taxpayer paid military caregiver leave.
FMLA military caregiver leave does not apply to veterans. However, if the veteran is a covered family member and has an FMLA-qualifying serious health condition, the program may also result, as a practical matter, in taxpayer paid FMLA leave.
Comment: Legislation proposing paid leave is all the rage this summer. Given that Senator Durbin in the Majority Whip, the legislation stands a very good chance of passing in the Senate. However, it will be interesting to see what actually makes it through the legislative sausage factory given the economic climate.