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Updated FMLA “Spouse” Definition

The Department of Labor has issued a final rule that changes the spousal eligibility under the FMLA. Eligibility will now be decided based on whether the marriage was legal in the state in which it was performed as opposed to the prior rule which looked at whether the marriage was legal in the state in which the employee resides.

In response to this rule change, employers should ensure that they are properly defining “spouse” for all employees who are in same sex marriages and common law marriages. If the same sex marriage or the common law marriage was entered into in a state where it is legal, employers should treat those spouses as eligible spouses for FMLA purposes even if those unions are not allowed in the state in which the employee works or resides.

Content provided by TPCHR HR Support Center.