DOL Issues Final Rule Implementing FMLA Expansions for Military Caregivers and Airline Flight Crew Employees


By: La’Vonda McLean
On February 5, 2013, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued its Final Rule implementing statutory amendments to the FMLA regarding leave for military caregivers and airline flight crews.  These statutory changes incorporate amendments made by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (“FY 2010 NDAA”) and the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (“AFCTCA”).  The final rule also clarifies changes regarding the calculation of intermittent or reduced schedule leave.
Before the FY 2010 NDAA was enacted, military caregiver leave was limited to eligible employees who were the family members of current service-members with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty.  The DOL’s Final Rule, however, expands military caregiver leave to eligible employees who are family members of certain veterans with a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty and that manifested before or after the veteran left active duty.
The Final Rule expands the definition of serious injury or illness for a current service-member to include preexisting conditions that were aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty.  The Final Rule also expands qualifying exigency leave to eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent in the Regular Armed Forces.  Before the Final Rule, a qualifying exigency only included members of the National Guard and Reserves.
The DOL’s Final Rule also amends the regulations to implement the AFCTCA.  The AFCTCA established a special minimum hours of service eligibility requirement for airline flight crew-members and flight attendants that reflect the unique scheduling requirements of the airline industry.  The Final Rule modifies the FMLA’s existing rules so that airline flight crew-members and flight attendants are better able to qualify for coverage under the FMLA based on the hours of service eligibility requirement.
The DOL’s announcement is available here.