Early last month the Department of Labor published new regulations it will be enforcing effective March 8, 2013 regarding the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The new regulations deal primarily with military families and airline industry employees. The most important changes are discussed below.
Military Caregiver Leave – The new regulations related to the military incorporate into the FMLA amendments made in 2010 to the National Defense Authorization Act of that year. Caregivers are now entitled to receive a maximum leave of 26 workweeks in a 12 month period to care for active members of the armed forces and certain veterans. This leave may also be taken for “serious” injuries or illnesses which were aggravated by active duty as opposed to those only caused by service in the armed forces. The caregiver can utilize this provision for as much as five years after the injured/ill individual is discharged unless the discharge is dishonorable. The regulations also set forth a complex definition of “serious” illness or injury.
Military Service Member Exigency Leave - Another new regulation derived from the National Defense Authorization Act covers the family of members of the regular Armed Forces and members of the National Guard and Reserves. A family member may take up to 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave in a one year period if the active duty status of a spouse, child or parent results in a qualifying exigency. Most notably the new regulation allows the exigency leave if the active duty status results in issues related childcare and schooling. A parent of an active duty member of the military may take the exigency leave in response to difficulties being experienced by the employee’s grandchild who is the child of the military member.
Airline Flight Crew members – The regulation addresses the amount of time a flight crew member must have on the job with his/her employer before becoming eligible for FMLA leave. This was necessitated due to the unusual schedule followed by pilots and other crew members which sometimes resulted in the individuals not qualifying for FMLA benefits or at the least taking longer to do so than many 9 to 5 airline employees. Crew members will now become eligible fro FMLA benefits after working for their employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1250 hours during the previous 12-month period. Under the FMLA flight crews are entitled to 72 days of leave in any one year period in addition to 156 days of leave during that same time span for military caregiver leave. The new regulations also require special recordkeeping duties by employers related to flight crew employees.
There were a number of other less dramatic changes incorporated in the new regulations. If you have any questions regarding any of the new requirements please contact us at your convenience.