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Military Family Act Would Change FMLA Standards

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A controversial piece of legislation could expand the Family Medical Leave Act to provide up to two weeks of leave -- unpaid if an employer chooses -- to people not covered by the military leave provisions of the existing FMLA.

The Navy Times reports that House Bill 3247, also known as The Military Family Leave Act, is now pending before two congressional committees. The current law has several provisions that can deny employees of family medical leave. For example, an employee is not covered under FMLA if he or she has worked for less than one year with the current employer. The employee must work at least 1,250 in a year and must work for a company or firm that employs at least 50 people.

With the Military Family Leave Act, all employees who are spouses, children, or parents of somebody who is deployed on a contingency operation or mobilized in support of a contingency operation will be able to receive family leave. The bill has the support of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars, but is opposed by the Military Coalition.

The bill remains controversial, especially among employers, because granting military family leave to all employees could drastically affect small businesses. A Texas employment lawyer might argue that with the passage of HR 3247, employers might become more reluctant to hire military family members and more likely to layoff military family members during tough economic times.

"There was good reason that the original Family and Medical Leave Act is established the way it is, with small businesses exempt," an anonymous family policy expert told Navy Times. "Having even a few employees away can hurt a small business far more than a large one."

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