On January 30, 2012, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced that the U.S. Department of Labor is issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking to implement new statutory amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act that would expand military family leave provisions and incorporate a special eligibility provision for airline flight crew employees.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 recent statutory amendments expanded the FMLA’s military caregiver leave and qualifying exigency leave provisions. The amendments extended military caregiver leave to eligible employees whose family members are recent veterans with serious injuries or illnesses, and expanded the definition of a serious injury or illness to include serious injuries or illnesses that result from preexisting conditions. The amendments also expanded qualifying exigency leave to eligible employees with family members serving in the Regular Armed Forces, and added a requirement that for all qualifying exigency leave the military member must be deployed to a foreign country.
The Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act established a special FMLA hours of service eligibility requirement for airline flight crew members, such as airline pilots and flight attendants, based on the unique scheduling requirements of the airline industry. Under the amendment, an airline flight crew employee will meet the FMLA hours of service eligibility requirement if he or she 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 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.