New Definition of Spouse Rule May Impact up to 118,000 Same-sex Spouses

Author: The Williams Institute
Published: Tuesday 24th February 2015
Summary: New US Department of labor rule amending definition of spouse in the family and medical leave act could impact up to 118,000 same-sex spouses.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that eligible workers in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take federal job-protected family and medical leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live.

The Final rule amends the regulatory definition of spouse under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and extends these rights to all eligible workers in same-sex marriages.

This change would impact about 118.000 individuals with same-sex spouses, according to estimates by Gary J. Gates, PhD, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

About 260,000 people are in same-sex marriages, with an employment rate of 77 percent among same-sex spouses.

About 59 percent of employed people are covered by the FMLA and are eligible for its benefits.

Moreover, 70,200 people in same-sex marriages are raising children. Among these individuals, 80 percent are employed.

Accordingly, approximately 33,100 individuals are likely eligible for FMLA rights under the new rule.

Gates further explained that, with the increase of states allowing for same-sex marriage in 2014, many of the 1.38 million people in same-sex couples in the United States will now be able to get married and be eligible for FMLA protection.

Gary J. Gates, PhD, is the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. He is a national expert in the demographic, geographic, and economic characteristics of the LGBT population.

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