Fringe Benefits News: All News
On January 30th, 2012 the US Department of Labor (USDOL) released a proposed rule that would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to expand benefits to military members and also to airline employees. This new rule would make it easier to take a protected break from work without fear of losing their jobs.
Currently, the FMLA benefits only cover family members of “currently serving” military personnel. The proposal would extend the entitlement of military caregiver leave to family members of veterans for up to five years after leaving service. As it stands now qualified leave only applies to service in the National Guard or the Reserves. Extending the benefits to five years will provide an enormous service for returning veterans with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries which have unpredictable symptoms that are not immediately evident. There will be an expansion in the definition of a serious injury or illness for both current service members and veterans that will include preexisting medical conditions. The new rule will also extend the time from five to fifteen days that an employee may take leave to spend with a military member who is on rest and recuperation leave.
The proposed rule will also address eligibility for FMLA leave regarding airline employees as well. Due to their unique hours and schedules, airline workers often failed to qualify for FMLA leave.
Under the revised rules the number of hours flight crews work will be reviewed to include not only being paid for hours of “actual flight time”, but also encompass mandatory stand-by and “in between” flight hours.
This notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2012 and interested parties can submit written comments during the sixty-day open comment period which ends April 16, 2012. When the new rule is adopted, employers will have to review and revise their FMLA policies to address the new policies.