DOL Proposes 2012 Changes to FMLA

On February 15, 2012, the Department of Labor released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in attempt to implement changes to the Family Medicare Leave Act (FMLA). The proposed amendment plans to expand FMLA as well as introduce a provision for the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act.

Caregiver Leave for Serious Illness or Injury of a Service Member

Currently, the FMLA states, the only employees who can use the special 26 week FMLA leave are the spouse, parent, child or next of kin of the injured or ill service member. The NPRM has proposed to extend Military caregiver leave to cover eligible employees whose family members are recent veterans with a serious illness or injury. The definition of a serious illness or injury would also be expanded to include an injury that existed prior to active duty but was worsened or agitated during active duty. There is a limit on the proposed rule of 5 years prior to the date the employee first took military caregiver leave.

Qualifying Exigency Leave

The proposed FMLA amendment would allow eligible employees with a spouse, child or parent serving in Regular Armed Forces, i.e. any branch of the Armed Forces, to use FMLA leave to handle exigencies related to their loved one’s deployment in a foreign country. Exigencies include financial, legal or child care issues related to deployment as well as special military events or family time during leave. Prior to the amendment, leave was only available to the National Guard’s and Reserve’s family members.

Flight Crew Eligibility

Part of the proposal is implementing the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act which would amend the service threshold for flight crews. Flight crew employees will meet the FMLA hours of service eligibility requirement if he/she has been paid or worked for not less than 60% of the applicable total monthly guarantee and has been paid or worked for not less than 504 hours during the previous 12 month period. No other airline employees would be affected by this proposal.

Additional Provisions

One of the additional changes would require all certification documents related to FMLA to be kept separate from employee’s personal folders and to be kept confidential. Additionally, the rule would require all employers to include a GINA disclaimer on all FMLA forms - which currently is not on the DOL model form.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor.

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