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Developments at OPM: Proposed Rule on Same-Sex Marriage and FMLA

Developments at OPM:  On June 23, 2014, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a Proposed Rule in the Federal Register (79 Fed. Reg. 35,497-35,498).  OPM is proposing to revise the regulations governing federal-sector Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to extend coverage to same-sex spouses of federal employees.  Comments on the Proposed Rule are due August 22, 2014.

OPM has initiated several rulemakings under the present Administration aimed at expanding employment benefits to same-sex spouses of current and former federal employees, as previously analyzed in this blog.  This effort by OPM has been expanded after the Supreme Court's Windsor decision.  OPM's new Proposed Rule updates definitions in its federal-sector FMLA regulations to expand the ability of federal employees in same-sex marriages to request FMLA leave.   FMLA allows covered employees to seek up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave for several purposes, including the providing care to certain family members.  If implemented, the Proposed Rule would permit federal employees to request FMLA leave to take care of their same-sex spouse or the children of their same-sex spouse in the same fashion as federal employees in heterosexual marriages are entitled to under present regulations.  This Proposed Rule would not apply to employees outside the federal sector, who fall under separate FMLA regulations administered by the Department of Labor.  

The Proposed Rule also clarifies that federal employees are entitled to use FMLA leave for the care of stepparents.

If you are a federal employee and wish to discuss your rights under FMLA, please contact Passman & Kaplan, P.C. to request an initial consultation.

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