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January 31, 2012

DOL Proposed Amendments to FMLA to Affect Military and Airline Crews

Filed under: Employment Law,FMLA3:38 pm

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) has undergone several amendments over the years intended to expand its reach and simplify administration.  From the Department of Labor:

“The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Eligible employees may take up to twelve workweeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period for the birth, adoption or placement of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or because they are unable to work due to their own serious health condition. The FMLA was amended in 2008 to provide an expanded leave entitlement to permit eligible employees who are the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a servicemember (National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces) with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty to take up to twenty-six workweeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period to care for their family member (military caregiver leave), and to add a special military family leave entitlement to allow eligible employees whose spouse, child, or parent is called up for active duty in the National Guard or Reserves to take up to twelve workweeks of FMLA leave for “qualifying exigencies” related to the call-up of their family member (qualifying exigency leave). The Department issued an earlier set of regulations implementing and interpreting these amendments.”

This week, the DOL announced its intention to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would implement and interpret some statutory amendments to the FMLA.  This NPRM is now available for public comment.  The major provisions of the NPRM include:

  • the extension of military caregiver leave to eligible family members of recent veterans with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty;
  • a flexible, three-part definition for serious injury or illness of a veteran;
  • the extension of military caregiver leave to cover serious injuries or illnesses for both current servicemembers and veterans that result from the aggravation during military service of a preexisting condition;
  • the extension of qualifying exigency leave to eligible employees with covered family members serving in the Regular Armed Forces;
  • inclusion of a foreign deployment requirement for qualifying exigency leave for the deployment of all servicemembers (National Guard, Reserves, Regular Armed Forces);
  • the addition of a special hours of service eligibility requirement for airline flight crew employees; and
  • the addition of specific provisions for calculating the amount of FMLA leave used by airline flight crew employees.

Once available, the public is invited to submit comments via Regulations.gov.

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