By Pat Murphy
The Department of Labor has announced proposed revisions to regulations implementing the Family and Medical Leave Act that would expand military family leave provisions and incorporate a special eligibility provision for airline flight crew employees.
“Keeping the basic promise of America alive means ensuring that workers, from our servicemen and servicewomen who keep us safe at home to the flight crews who keep us safe in the skies, have the resources, support and opportunities they need and have rightfully earned,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in a press release announcing the proposed revisions.
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The Act’s military caregiver provision generally allows a spouse or close relative to take 26 weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a “currently serving” service member with a serious injury or illness.
The proposed revisions to FMLA regulations would extend the entitlement of military caregiver leave to family members of veterans for up to five years after leaving the military, reflecting changes to the Act made by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010.
In addition, the proposal expands the FMLA’s military family leave provisions by extending qualifying exigency leave to employees whose family members serve in the regular armed forces. Currently, the law only covers families of National Guard members and reservists.
The proposed revision for airline flight crew employees would make the FMLA benefits more accessible. Specifically, the proposal adds a special hours of service eligibility requirement and specific provisions for calculating the amount of FMLA leave used to take into account the unique – and often difficult to track – hours worked by crew members.