Caring for Service Members In Your Family

January 8, 2020

We are grateful to those who volunteer to provide service to our country. The hazards of deployment and the resulting injuries may require a family member to become a caregiver to the military member or veteran. There is a special provision of the FMLA acknowledges this need and provides additional time for care.

Employees may have an event that qualifies for leave under FMLA and use up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. However, they may be unaware that they qualify for up to 26 work weeks of leave when the person requiring care is a service member.

When we define who is a qualified service member, we are describing a current member of the US Armed Forces (including National Guard and Reserves) or a veteran discharged from service within five years before the first time a family member becomes the caregiver.

If the employee has a spouse, child, parent, or next-of-kin (nearest blood relative) who needs care for a serious injury or illness, the period of leave can be up to 26 weeks. Under regular FMLA leave, the period is 12 weeks in a 12-month period. When the leave is for a military service member, the 26 weeks available is also within a 12-month period. However the way the year is calculated is different than the standard FMLA leave year*.

The single 12-month period for military caregiver leave begins on the first day the employee takes leave for this reason and ends 12 months later, regardless of the 12-month period established by the employer for other FMLA leave reasons. Under standard FMLA, the 12-month period is defined by the employer and can be a calendar year, a fixed term year based on a milestone (e.g. hire date anniversary), or 12-month period from the start of FMLA leave.

Qualifying circumstances that would place the service member as eligible for care include: a serious injury or illness as a result of service in the line of active duty or a condition that existed prior to active duty and was aggravated by the service while on active duty. This illness or injury must prevent the service member from performing duties of the office or rank. The employer may require documentation.

It is important to let family members know that FMLA may be available to them to care for a military family member. We would like to provide a demonstration of the capabilities of the AbsenceSoft solution to manage your company’s FMLA administration.

Contact us and schedule a time convenient for your team.