Archive for March 2013

Amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act

first aid kitThe U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule that implements two major statuary expansions to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The amended FMLA broadens military caregiver and qualifying exigency leave provisions set by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (AFCTCA), covering service members and their families. Employers with 50 or more employees are required to comply with the extended provisions as well as post the new FMLA poster and use the new Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave Form.

Military Caregiver Provisions

Veteran Caregiver Leave: A family member taking care of a veteran with a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty is allowed up to 26 workweeks of FMLA Leave during a single 12-month period. Family members include spouse, son, daughter, parents and next of kin.

Health Care Providers: The list of health care providers who can provide a medical certification to support FMLA military caregiver leave was expanded to include non-military affiliated providers. However, medical certifications authorized by non-military affiliated providers are subject to a request for a second or third opinion if deemed necessary by the employer.

Qualifying Exigency Leave Provisions

Family Member Leave: An eligible employee whose spouse son, daughter, or parent is a member of the military can take up to 12 workweeks of leave for qualifying exigencies arising out of the military member’s active duty or call to active duty. Eligible family members are entitled to FMLA leave for qualifying exigencies in connection with the foreign deployment of a service member. A qualifying exigency consists of financial, legal or childcare issues related to the family member’s call-up or deployment. Prior to the FMLA amendments, this leave was only available to eligible employees of service members in the National Guard or Reserves but the final rule extends this provision to families with members of the regular Armed Forces.

Rest and Recuperation Leave: The amount of time an eligible employee can take to spend time with his or her covered family members during rest and recuperation leave was extended from five days to a maximum of 15 days.

Other Amendments to FMLA

The final rule also modifies FMLA leave qualifications for airline flight crew members. Under the amendment, an airline flight crew employee is eligible for FMLA leave 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. Airline employees who are not flight crew members will be covered under the general hours-of-service eligibility standard that requires 1,250 hours of service in the previous 12 months.

What impact do you think the amendments will have on employers?