The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a regulatory guidance confirming that same-sex married couples are entitled to the same benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as more traditional heterosexual married couples. The guidance indicates that FMLA spousal leave entitlements extend to same-sex spouses that reside in states that recognize same-sex marriages.
The FMLA provides qualified individuals with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under certain circumstances, such as to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. The FMLA defines “spouse” under state law for purposes of marriage in the state where the employee resides. Given the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which held the federal law defining marriage as between persons of the opposite sex for purposes of federal benefits unconstitutional, same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriage is legal will be eligible for certain federal benefits, including those available under the FMLA.
At present, Washington, D.C. and 13 states recognize same-sex marriages – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
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