The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) recently celebrated its 20th birthday, and in recognition of the milestone the Labor Department announced that it would be extending some of the benefits to the families of servicemembers. The move allows the loved ones of troops to take time off for a variety of issues without having to worry about losing their jobs, reports the Sun Sentinel. 

What are the benefits?
The legislation provides a number of benefits for military families. For example, they can take as much as 26 weeks unpaid leave to care for a servicemember with an illness or injury. Furthermore, the announcement also stipulates that military families can take 12 weeks for a number of service-related emergencies such as deployment or struggles upon returning home. To Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who is a veteran, the decision to extend benefits for military families was a smart one.

“The Family and Medical Leave act stands up for women, it stands up for families, and it stands up for our brave men and women who serve in our Armed Forces,” she said in a prepared statement. “As someone who went through a personal tragedy that required months of care in the hospital, I know how important it is to have a loved one by your side in those moments.”

Has it worked?
The celebration of the 20th anniversary coincides with the release of a recent study that touts the positive role that the FMLA has played over the last two decades. Conducted by the Labor Department, the study found that 90 percent of workplaces that are covered by the FMLA say that the policy has had a positive impact on the work environment. However, there is still work to be done because an estimated 40 percent of all workers are still not covered by the FMLA.

Importance of FMLA
Military families may be one of the groups that need the FMLA, given that their loved ones’ injuries often require a substantial level of care. This is especially true given the events of the last 12 years. Since 2001, more than 17,670 servicemember​s have been wounded due to the war in Afghanistan. The figures were even greater for troops who served in Iraq, with more than 32,200 soldiers wounded between 2003 and 2011.