The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) marked the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by issuing final regulations implementing the expanded military leaves created by the National Defense Authorization Acts, and the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (AFCTCA).
Highlights of the regulations include:
· Qualifying exigency leave now includes eligible employees with family members serving in the regular Armed Forces and adds a foreign deployment requirement to qualifying exigency.
· The maximum amount of time that may be taken for rest and recuperation is increased from 5 days to a maximum of 15 days.
· There is a new category under qualifying exigency for parental care, similar to the category for childcare. If an employee needs time off to care for the parent of a military member because the parent is incapable of self-care, the employee may do so if the need for leave arises out of the military member’s call to active duty. The reasons for this leave parallel the leaves for childcare and do not apply to providing care on a regular or routine basis.
· For military caregiver leave, the definition of serious injury or illness now includes pre-existing injuries or illnesses that were aggravated in the line of duty. In addition, the definition of serious injury or illness is expanded.
· Military caregiver leave now applies to covered veterans who served in active duty anytime during a five-year period, prior to the date the employee is seeking leave.
· The Certification of Health Care Provider under the military caregiver leave may now be provided by a private health care provider, not affiliated with the Armed Forces; but such a certification may be subject to second and third opinions.
· Special rules are provided for airline flight crew employees, to afford many of them the benefits of FMLA.
· There is a uniform entitlement for airline flight crew employees to 72 days of leave for an FMLA qualifying reason; and 156 days for military caregiver leave.
The DOL has created an FAQ sheet on the final rule. These regulations have also resulted in mandatory changes to the FMLA poster, and to the Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave—Form WH-385-V.
Subscribers to MSEC’s Employment Law Posters 2013 Update Service receive updated posters in the third week of the month following a mandatory change or earlier. In this instance, revised federal posters will arrive the week of March 18, if not before.
MSEC will provide additional information intepreting these regulations, and is updating its FMLA materials to reflect these changes.