Update: Final FMLA rule changes definition of spouse

Work – Life – Balance. The final FMLA ruling regarding the definition of spouse has been published. BLR, Susan Schoenfeld, highlights the changes to the rule and how it effects both employers and employees.

Today the United States Department of Labor published a final rule in the Federal Register, revising the regulatory definition of “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).

The final rule changes the FMLA’s “state of residence” rule to a “place of celebration” rule for the definition of spouse under the FMLA regulations. Under the “place of celebration” rule, employers must look to the law of the state in which the employee’s marriage was entered into, as opposed to the law of the state in which the employee resides. The place of celebration rule allows all legally married couples, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, or married under common law, to have consistent federal family leave rights regardless of where they live.

The final rule’s definition of spouse also expressly includes individuals in lawfully recognized same-sex and common law marriages and marriages that were validly entered into outside of the United States if they could have been entered into in at least one state.

The effective date for the final rule is March 27, 2015.

For more information, see the DOL’s website.

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