Military Service and the FMLA – 9 Reasons for Qualifying Exigency Leave You Should Know About
Although most employers know the FMLA grants eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons, far fewer realize that the FMLA also provides 12 workweeks of leave for a variety of reasons when an employee’s spouse, child, or parent is on covered active duty in the Armed Forces or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty. Known as qualifying exigency leave, the Department of Labor has identified nine exigencies for which employers must grant FMLA leave:
To address issues arising from a covered military member being notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty seven or fewer days before deployment. The employee can use the leave for a period of seven calendar days beginning on the day the military member receives the notification.
Military events and related activities
To attend any official ceremony, program, or event sponsored by the military relating to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of the military member, as well as family support or assistance programs and informational briefings.
Childcare and school activities
To arrange for alternative child care, provide child care on an immediate need basis, attend meetings with school or day care staff, or enroll or transfer schools or day care facilities for a covered military member’s child.
Financial and legal arrangements
To make or update financial or legal arrangements due to a covered military member’s absence.
To attend counseling by someone other than a health care provider for the employee, the military member, or a military member’s child, provided the need for counseling arises from covered active duty or a call to covered active duty of the military member.
Rest and Recuperation
To spend time with a military member on temporary, short-term rest and recuperation leave from deployment. The leave can be used for a period of 15 calendar days beginning the date the military member starts rest and recuperation leave.
To attend arrival ceremonies, reintegration briefings, and any other official post-deployment activities sponsored by the military within 90 days of the end of the covered military member’s active duty, or to attend to issues arising from the death of the military member while on covered active duty.
To provide care for the military member’s parent who is incapable of self-care including arranging alternative care for the parent, providing urgent and immediate-need care, admitting or transferring the parent to care facilities, and attending meetings with the staff of the care facility.
To attend to any other activity arising out of the covered military member’s active duty or call to active duty that the employer and employee agree is a qualifying exigency.
FMLA qualifying exigencies require examination
When employees request FMLA leave because their spouse, child, or parent is a military member called to covered active military duty, employers should closely scrutinize the request. Although FMLA leave may be used for a broad range of qualifying exigencies, there are still many conditions associated with these reasons that must be met before the employee is entitled to the leave. And, like other types of FMLA leave, employers may require employees seeking qualifying exigency leave to submit a certification supporting the reason for leave.