FMLA Revises Definition of "Spouse"

Printer-friendly version

The Department of Labor issued a Final Rule effective March 27th, revising the definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include partners in same-sex marriages based on the “state of celebration”.

Eligible employees in same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse as long as the marriage was legal in the state in which it was conducted (the state of celebration). Previously, the employee had to reside in a state which recognized same-sex marriage, such as New Jersey. Because of this revision, New Jersey employees will now also be eligible if they entered into a lawful out-of-state common law marriage.

According to the DOL, this new rule allows all legally married couples, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, or married under common law, to have consistent federal family leave rights regardless of where they live.  For more information: