Feds move to cover same-sex couples under Family Medical Leave Act

Same–sex couples now have the same job security as heterosexual couples under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Labor Department updated the FMLA regulatory definition of "spouse" to ensure that eligible employees in a legal same-sex marriage can take family medical leave to care for a spouse regardless of the state in which they reside.

The previous definition of “spouse” did not include same-sex spouses if an employee resided in a state that did not recognize same-sex marriage. 

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"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 PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE said in a news release on Monday.

"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.”

The rule change is in line with the Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v Windsor, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act provision that interpreted "marriage" and "spouse" to be limited to opposite-sex marriage for the purposes of federal law.

Enacted in 1993, FMLA was designed to let eligible employees take unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons.