In March 2015, a preliminary injunction granted by a federal judge in Texas delayed a new revision issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) that would redefine “spouse” for the purposes of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which affects employees and employee benefits. The FMLA entitles eligible employees to take unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons, without retaliation or penalty from employers. The civil action was filed by the Attorneys General for Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska in opposition to the Department of Labor’s new rule. The representative argued that the new provision violated the federal Full Faith and Credit provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, which states that no state shall be required to recognize another state’s public act, record, or judicial proceeding in regards to same-sex marriage. Each of these states do not currently recognize same-sex marriages, and assert that their right to do so has been violated by FMLA mandates inclusion of same-sex partnerships.
The federal court found enough evidence that the DOL had exceeded its authority and the four states named in the claim to offer a preliminary injunction for those states alone. As of early April, the DOL had agreed to comply with the temporary injunction and halted their enforce the new FMLA changes in Texas, Arkansas, Nebraska and Louisiana. However, the DOL claims to be fulling enforcing the new provision in the 46 other states and District of Columbia where same-sex marriages are legally recognized.
How does this impact staffing firms and other employers?
The FLMA entitles eligible workers to:
- Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth; the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement; to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition; a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” OR
- Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).
The new definition of “spouse” under the DOL rule includes same sex partnerships, therefore baring employers and co-employers from denying their employees with same-sex partners these time-off benefits, or risk potential employment practices liability exposures.
Adapting to changing regulations can be challenging in any industry, but policy changes frequently affect the staffing industry more than others. World Wide Specialty Programs has developed an intimate understanding of the staffing industry and the risks temporary staffing firms face through the course of their operation. As a result, we have developed a host of business insurance solutions that address the ever evolving needs of staffing firms to help businesses keep up with the latest employment trends, legislation and practice. From protecting against liability disputes to on the job injuries we offer the most comprehensive and innovative Staffing Insurance available to ensure the security of any operation. To find out how we help solve your staffing insurance needs, contact us today at (877) 256-0468.