FMLA’S Final Rule Expands Protections For Military Families And Airline Flight Crews

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On February 5, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division published a final rule that will expand Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections to military families and airline flight crews. The final rule implements the FMLA amendments made by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (NDAA) and the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (AFCTCA). The final rule coincides with the 20th anniversary of the signing of the FMLA.

The final rule provides several key changes for military families. Included in these changes are that families of eligible veterans now have the same job-protected FMLA leave currently available to families of military service members. The final rule creates a new qualifying exigency leave category for parental care and increases the amount of exigency leave related to a military member’s rest and recuperation leave from five to 15 days. The final rule extends qualifying exigency leave, which previously was available only to eligible employees with family members in the National Guard and Reserves, to eligible employees who are family members of members of the regular Armed Forces. The final rule also expands the definition of “serious illness or injury” to cover pre-existing illnesses or injuries that were aggravated in the line of duty.

The final rule also impacts airline flight crews. Under the final rule, a flight crew employee’s hours of service requirement for the purposes of FMLA eligibility will be met if the employee has worked or been paid for not less than 60 percent of the applicable total monthly guarantee and has worked or been paid for not less than 504 hours during the previous 12 months.

The final rule will take effect on March 8, 2013.