You are the spouse of a member of the military. Not only has your spouse sacrificed for his or her country by always being ready to defend it, but you have sacrificed your family life for the country, as well. We thank you and salute you.
In addition to our thanks and admiration, the state of Washington provides you with additional benefits as a spouse of someone serving in the military. The Legislature enacted the Washington State Military Family Leave Act of 2011 (MFLA), codified in the Revised Code of Washington or RCW in section 49.77.
Unlike other requirements or laws that fall under labor law, the MFLA has few restrictions. All employers are subject to the MFLA, regardless of size. In contrast to other laws that are applicable to only employers who employ 50 or more people, the MFLA is applicable to all employers, regardless of the size of the company. The RCW does require that the employee in question works a minimum of 20 hours at his or her job, however.
The MFLA covers all members of the service who are deployed. This means that reservists called up for duty fall under the MFLA. Spouses of members of the Coast Guard and National Guard are also allowed leave under the MFLA.
Anytime someone is called up to active duty or is deployed, the spouse of the person on deployment is entitled to 15 days of leave during the course of the deployment. The RCW is clear that such leave can be used prior to the deployment or while the spouse is on leave from that deployment. If the spouse is actively deployed and not on leave, then the MFLA does not provide mandatory leave for the military spouse.
Those 15 days are work days, not calendar days. Weekends and holidays that an employee would otherwise not be working are not included in the 15-day leave total.
The employee spouse of the military member about to be deployed or about to take leave of his or her deployment must notify an employer that he or she is taking leave under the MFLA by providing at least five days’ notice. Similarly, if the deployed spouse changes plans, the spouse of the person serving in the military must provide similar notice to his or her employer about a change in the leave time.
If an employer violates or otherwise interferes with the leave, that employer is subject to a fine with a minimum of $1,000. If enforced by the Washington Department of Labor and Industry, or L & I, L & I deposits that money into the family and medical leave enforcement account.
The RCW is clear that the MFLA is applicable to domestic partners as well as married couples. When the statute states husband, wife, or spouse, it includes people involved in a domestic partnership.
Are you a spouse of a member of the military and are facing adverse employment issues? Know that you have rights. Contact the HKM Employment Attorneys.