Labor Dept. Extends FMLA Benefits to Same-Sex Married Couples
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor issued regulatory guidance stating that workers in same-sex marriages now can take leave from their jobs to care for their spouses under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Wall Street Journal reports (Trottman/Maher, Wall Street Journal, 8/9).
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in June meant that same-sex couples who are married and living in 13 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal would become eligible for the spousal benefits they have been denied, including:
- Family and medical leave;
- IRS tax credits;
- Survivors' benefits; and
- Tax-free employer-provided health coverage (California Healthline, 6/28).
The new DOL guidance applies to the same-sex married couples residing in the 13 states and D.C.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez said the guidance on FMLA is "one of many steps" it will take to implement the Supreme Court's decision. He said the department will "look for every opportunity" to ensure that it is implementing the decision "in a way that provides the maximum protection for workers and their families."
While the DOL guidance did not "explicitly expand" FMLA benefits to same-sex married couples who live in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage, the Office of Personnel Management has "left no question" on the matter, according to the Journal. OPM has said it will extend certain benefits to all federal employees in same-sex marriages, noting on its website that the benefits will be available "regardless" of their state of residency (Wall Street Journal, 8/9).
Meanwhile, the Department of Defense is preparing a directive that could provide benefits to same-sex spouses of military members by the end of August, Government Executive reports. The plan also could give military members in same-sex relationships up to 10 days of leave to travel to a state where they can legally marry (Katz, Government Executive, 8/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.