The U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule implementing two important expansions of FMLA protections. In 2008 the FMLA was amended to provide employees with family members serving in the Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserves with FMLA leave for reasons related to their family members’ military service. In 2010 the FMLA was again amended, expanding the military-related leave protections. The FMLA was also amended to include a special eligibility provision for airline flight crew employees.
The major provisions of the Final Rule include:
- Defining a covered veteran, consistent with statutory limitations, as limited to veterans discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable five years prior to the date the employee’s military caregiver leave begins.
- Creating a flexible definition for serious injury or illness of a covered veteran, that includes four alternatives only one of which must be met.
- Permitting eligible employees to obtain certification of a service member’s serious injury or illness (both current service members and veterans) from any health care provider as defined in the FMLA regulations, not only those affiliated with the DOD, VA, or TRICARE networks (as was permitted under the 2009 regulations).
- Extending qualifying exigency leave to eligible employees who are family members of members of the Regular Armed Forces and adding the requirement for all military members to be deployed to a foreign country in order to be on “covered active duty” under the FMLA.
- Increasing the amount of time an employee may take for qualifying exigency leave related to the military member’s Rest and Recuperation (R&R) leave from five days to up to 15 days.
- Creating an additional qualifying exigency leave category for parental care leave to provide care necessitated by the covered active duty of the military member for the military member’s parent who is incapable of self-care.
- Incorporating the statutory hours of service eligibility requirements for airline flight crew employees for FMLA leave.
- Creating a unique method of calculation of leave for airline flight crew employees, and establishing that FMLA leave for intermittent or reduced schedule leave usage, taken by airline flight crew employees, must be accounted for using an increment no greater than one day.
Military caregiver leave for a veteran will not be available until the effective date of the Final Rule on March 8, 2013.
For more information, including the final rule, a military leave guide, fact sheets and other materials, visit www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/2013rule