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Since 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has promised employees with protected, unpaid leave from their job if the employee or their immediate family required medical attention. In order to further protect the job security of employees in the military and airline industry, certain expansions were signed into effect on February 5, 2013. The 2013 FMLA changes expand upon benefits to veterans, military sevicemembers and airline personnel and flight crews.
The 2013 changes to the FMLA for military families was made to expand the availability of military caregiver leave and qualifying exigency leave. Qualifying exigency leave for military families were previously defined for families of Reserve and National Guard members only. The new rule qualifies families of the Regular Armed Forces to take job-protected leave. Families can take time off work to participate in important official military activities such as family support programs, informational briefings or post-deployment ceremonies. Family members may also use the leave to plan unexpected childcare arrangements if the servicemember’s call to active duty is unexpected.
In addition, the FMLA extends coverage to families of veterans who need a family caregiver. Under the amended FMLA rule, a servicemember is considered a veteran if he or she is honorably discharged within the five-year period a family member first takes FMLA leave to care for the veteran. In order for a family member to classify time off as FMLA-covered leave, the veteran must be undergoing recuperation, treatment for a condition that was caused or aggravated during the line of duty or recovering from a serious illness or injury. Under the law, covered families of veterans may still use the same allotted time period of a combined total of 26 weeks of unpaid leave in a single 12-month period.
If a servicemember is on active duty and requires medical attention, a family member may take covered leave and then within the same year take FMLA-covered leave again for the same medical condition when the servicemember is considered a veteran.
In response to airline flight crewmembers and flight attendants’ unique work schedules, specific provisions were added to calculate the amount of FMLA leave time. Airline flight crew amendments propose a special minimum of hours of eligibility for FMLA leave. To determine eligibility, airline employees must meet a new threshold of 60 percent of the applicable total monthly guarantee and 504 hours during the 12 months prior to FMLA leave.
Employer Obligations under the FMLA
How does the new 2013 FMLA posting requirement affect your business? Employers must take time to review the changes that have been made and make any necessary revisions to company policies. Both employers and managers must notify employees about changes to the FMLA law. Employers must meet the new 2013 FMLA posting requirement by posting the updated FMLA poster in a prominent work location by March 8th, 2013. Handbooks must also be updated to reflect new leave-related changes. Employers who fail to meet this deadline risk subjecting their business to fines.