The parade of legislation to expand the FMLA continues. On July 30, 2009, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Congressman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) introduced the "Supporting Military Families Act of 2009" in their respective chambers (H.R. 3403, S. 1543). The legislation makes three major changes to the availability of military family leave for Title I and Title II federal employees:
- It allows covered family members to take up to 26 weeks of leave
a year to care for a seriously injured veteran for up to five years
after separation from military service. Currently, military caregiver
leave is not available to care for veterans;
- It extends the availability of military caregiver leave where a pre-existing serous injury or illness is aggravated by active duty service. Under the current DOL regulations, aggravation of an existing serious injury or illness is not covered by the FMLA; and
- It extends the availability of 12 weeks of qualifying exigency
leave to cover active duty members in the regular armed forces.
Currently,DOL regulations provide that qualifying exigency leave is limited where a family member is in the Reserve or National Guard.
Comment: The legislation is worth watching. Senator Dodd was one of the original sponsors of the FMLA. His amendment to the FMLA is co-sponsored by Senators Kennedy and Lieberman. In the House Congressman Woolsey has 34 cosponsors. I believe this legislation has an excellent chance of being enacted.