02/22/2013 08:16:28 AM EST
FMLA Protections Expanded by New Regulations
by Laura Salerno
The Department of Labor has issued a final rule,
effective March 8, 2013, which expands the protections of the Family Medical
Leave Act for families of military veterans and for airline flight crews.
Employers should be aware that additional employees may now be entitled to
leave under FMLA. Employers should also update their policies, leave letters,
and handbooks to incorporate these changes to the law. Additionally, all
employers covered by FMLA will need to post a new
FMLA poster by March 8, 2013, the effective date of the new rule.
For families of military veterans, the final rule has
three major changes:
rule expands the definition of a serious injury or illness for current
servicemembers to include current servicemembers' pre-existing injuries or
illnesses that were aggravated in the line of duty.
rule expands the FMLA military caregiver leave provision to provide leave
to eligible family members of certain veterans receiving medical
treatment, recuperation, or therapy if the veteran was a member of the
Armed Forces at any time during the five year period preceding the date of
the medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy. This five year period is
an expansion of the prior regulations.
rule also expands the qualifying exigency leave category. For example, it
increases the length of time an eligible family member may take for the
qualifying exigency leave reason of Rest and Recuperation from five days
to up to a maximum of 15 calendar days and creates a new qualifying
exigency leave category for parental care.
For airline flight crews, the final rule amends the
regulations to implement the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act,
which establishes FMLA eligibility requirements specifically for airline flight
crewmembers and flight attendants (collectively referred to as airline flight
crew employees). Highlights of the new special rules applicable to airline
flight crew employees include the following:
new rule provides that an airline flight crew employee meets the hours of
service requirement to be eligible for FMLA leave if, during the previous
12-month period, he or she:
worked or been paid for not less than 60 percent of the applicable total
monthly guarantee (or the equivalent) AND
worked or been paid for not less than 504 hours, not including personal
commute time or time spent on vacation, medical, or sick leave.
rule entitles an eligible airline flight crew employee to 72 days of leave
for any FMLA-qualifying reason(s) other than military caregiver leave and
156 days of leave for military caregiver leave.
rule further provides that employers must account for an airline flight
crew employee's intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA leave usage
utilizing an increment no greater than one day.
For a complete list of changes to the FMLA regulations,
please visit the DOL website, or contact your favorite Barran Liebman
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