Paid Family Leave

Life happens. We hear it all the time from military and civilian households alike. But what does a military family do when life happens all at once—upcoming deployment, medical needs, kids in school, even an unexpected homecoming?

Employed military spouses inevitably take on the weight of preparing for, surviving during, and managing reintegration after a deployment. Others will find themselves going from a career outside the home, to caring for their injured service member at home. In most cases, spouses will have to take time off work to adequately prepare or adjust when life happens.

 

This is where Paid Family Leave (and its relative, the Family and Medical Leave Act) might be help.

While the Family and Medical Leave Act, a federal initiative, is available in all 50 states, not everyone will qualify to receive it. And currently, Paid Family Leave—which varies from state to state—is only available in the following states: California, Connecticut (2022), District of Columbia (2020), Massachusetts (2021), New Jersey, New York, Oregon (2023), Rhode Island, and Washington (2020).

Learn more about both types of leave and see if you qualify to receive either.

Get all of the information you need about Paid Family Leave in a downloadable one-page fact sheet.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

It’s important to understand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to know why Paid Family Leave is so important.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in January 1993 and signed by Present Clinton. It’s a federal benefit giving eligible workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave while they take time away from work to:

  1. Care for a sick family member
  2. Care for a newborn, newly-adopted child, or newly-placed foster child
  3. Address a serious health condition, including pregnancy
How Do I Qualify for FMLA?

To be eligible, an employee must:

  1. Work for a qualified employer who has more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius
  2. Have worked 1250 hours in a year

Military service members are not eligible; however National Guard and Reservists may meet eligibility criteria if employed in addition to their military service.

FMLA for Military Families

The original version of the FMLA didn’t include any provisions for military families, however, the bill was expanded in the National Defense Authorization Act, and would encompass all branches of the military and components of the armed forces.

In 2010, the National Military Family Association partnered with the National Partnership for Women and Families to create the first expansions of the FMLA.

These expansions allowed military family members (including a parent, spouse, or sibling) to take unpaid, job-protected leave to:

  1. Care for a wounded, ill, or injured service member for up to 24 workweeks in a 12-month period
  2. Address qualifying contingencies arising from a deployment, such as:
    • Preparing legal documents or addressing financial issues BEFORE a deployment. This includes Power of Attorney, wills, financial preparedness classes)
    • Finding childcare BEFORE a deployment
    • Attending school events for a child or dependent
    • Attending pre- or post-deployment briefs
    • Attending a military member’s send-off or homecoming
Paid Family Leave

Paid Family Leave is a state-led initiative providing eligible workers paid, job-protected time off to address some of the same contingencies as FMLA. Employees are able to maintain an income if they’re out of work for an extended period of time to:

  1. Care for a sick family member
  2. Care for a newborn, newly-adopted child, or newly-placed foster child
  3. Address a serious health condition, including pregnancy

Paid Family Leave is set up by a state’s unemployment benefit compensation fund and is typically paid into by both the employer and employee in the state where the employer is located, though this can differ by state.

How do I Qualify for Paid Family Leave?

Eligibility for Paid Family Leave varies from state to state. Some must have a minimum number of employees on staff before they’ll fund Paid Family Leave; others require employees to work a certain number of hours per year to qualify.

Military service members are not eligible; however National Guard and Reservists may meet eligibility criteria if employed in addition to their military service.

Check the National Partnership for Women & Families’ Paid Leave Tracker to see if your state’s eligibility requirements.

There are a few sources from which you can receive Paid Family Leave funds:

  1. From Your Employer. Some employers have their own Paid Family Leave policies. Companies that voluntarily provide Paid Family Leave have their own requirements and criteria. Check with your Human Resource Administrator to see if your employer offers Paid Family Leave.
  2. From a Short or Long-Term Disability Insurer. You can get this through your employer or on your own through a third-party insurer. Usually you will pay the insurer a premium each month, and in the event of an extended absence, you’ll receive payment directly from the third-party insurer.
  3. From Your State. Only a handful of states have passed Paid Family Leave legislation, which mandate employers to offer Paid Family Leave under specific guidelines. Those guidelines can vary from one state to the next.
Paid Family Leave for Military Families

Some, but not all, states that have passed Paid Family Leave include military provisions. Currently, states with military expansions to Paid Family Leave include:

  • Connecticut (will not be effective for benefits until January 2022)
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Washington
  • California (military expansion effective January 1, 2021)

The military expansion of Paid Family Leave covers an employee to:

  1. Care for a wounded, ill, or injured service member for up to 24 work weeks in a 12-month period
  2. Address qualifying contingencies arising from a deployment, such as:
    • Preparing legal documents or addressing financial issues BEFORE a deployment. This includes Power of Attorney, wills, financial preparedness classes)
    • Finding childcare BEFORE a deployment
    • Attending school events for a child or dependent
    • Attending pre- or post-deployment briefs
    • Attending a military member’s deployment send-off or homecoming

Find information about State Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Laws.

Contact

National Military Family Association
3601 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite 425
Alexandria, VA 22304
703.931.6632

info@MilitaryFamily.org

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