In 2009, the President signed into law two sets of amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act. One set created two types of leave applicable to military service. The second set of amendments were specific as to FMLA eligibility for airline flight crews. On February 15, 2012, the Department of Labor published proposed regulations concerning these amendments. Some of the key proposed regulations are summarized here. The DOL website has links to the fact sheets and further explanations about the proposed regulations and how they would change FMLA law. The comment period will run through mid-April, 2012.
Highlights of the Military Leave Entitlement Changes. Military caregiver leave is available for up to 26 (rather than 12) weeks, for care of servicemembers with a serious injury or illness. Eligible employees include a servicemember's spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin. This leave now covers not only current active servicemembers, but also veterans within five years of discharge. There are several definitions of what is a "serious injury or illness." It also covers prior conditions that were aggravated in the line of duty, not only injuries incurred in the line of duty.
Leave for a "qualifying exigency" was also modified. It now applies to members of the regular armed forces, in addition to the national guard and reserves. However, it applies only to deployments to foreign countries. Also, the amount of leave time for "rest and recuperation" was extended from five to 15 days.
Highlights of the Airline Flight Crew Eligibility Changes. Typically, employees must have worked 1250 hours over the prior 12 months to be eligible for FMLA leave. That standard was difficult to apply in the airline industry, and so special eligibility requirements have been enacted. Those employees must have worked or been paid for not less than 60 percent of the total monthly guarantee, and have worked or been paid for not less than 504 hours during the 12 months prior to their leave.
Other proposed regulatory changes. The proposed regulations also make a few other changes to the current law. For example, leave should always be calculated using the employer's shortest increment of leave permitted by payroll systems (typically six minutes). Also, the proposed regulations narrow some of the exceptions on an employee's right to reinstatement after leave.