Skip to content

News & Knowledge

DOL Final Rule Amends FMLA Definition of “Spouse”


DOL Final Rule Amends FMLA Definition of “Spouse”

February 25, 2015

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides that eligible employees of covered employers are entitled take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. On February 25, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Final Rule revising the definition of “spouse” under the FMLA to allow eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages to take FMLA-protected leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live. The DOL asserts that the amendment will afford spouses in same-sex marriages the same ability as all spouses to fully exercise their FMLA rights.

The effective date of the Final Rule is March 27, 2015. (For more details, see the DOL’s Fact Sheet on the Final Rule.)

Notably, the DOL recognizes as legal a  same-sex marriage under a “place of celebration” rule —  meaning that same-sex spouses can take FMLA-protected leave based on the law of the state or country where the couple was married rather than the law of the state where the couple resides or the eligible spouse is employed.

In light of this development, employers must evaluate and revise their FMLA policies and procedures as needed to ensure compliance with respect to same-sex marriages on and after March 27, 2015.

For more information on this development, please contact: