Login Register Subscribe
Current Issue

Legally married same-sex couples receive family leave in all states

Reprints

Employees in same-sex marriages — regardless of where they live — will have the same rights to benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act as other employees under a new U.S. Labor Department rule.

The rule, unveiled Monday, updates earlier regulations. Previously, the regulatory definition of “spouse” did not include same-sex spouses if an employee lived in a state that did not recognize the employee's same-sex marriage.

Under the new rule, eligibility for federal FMLA benefits is based on the law of the place where the marriage occurred.

For example, if an employee who lives in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages marries a same-sex partner in a state that does recognize same sex marriage, that employee will be entitled to use FMLA leave to care for a seriously ill spouse.

“The basic promise of the FMLA is that no one should have to choose between the job and income they need and caring for a loved one,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a statement.

“With our action today, we extend that promise so that no matter who you love, you will receive the same rights and protections as everyone else. All eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages, regardless of where they live, can now deal with a serious medical and family situation like all families — without the threat of job loss,” he added.