On February 6, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a Final Rule implementing certain changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The Final Rule expands FMLA coverage for qualifying veterans, extends exigency leave for military members, and creates a special hours of service requirement to bring certain airline personnel within the FMLA’s eligibility criteria. The Final Rule takes effect on March 8, 2013.
The key provisions are:
The FMLA requires covered employers to provide unpaid leave to qualifying employees for certain family and health related issues. The Final Rule expands coverage to individuals who provide care to a veteran within five years of the date they were discharged from service provided the veteran was not dishonorably discharged. Previously, only employees related to current service members could qualify for extended leave to care for the service member.
The Final Rule expands the definition of a serious injury or illness to include four alternatives, only one of which must be satisfied for coverage. The four alternatives are:
The Final Rule also extends qualifying exigency leave to eligible employees who have family members in any branch of the Armed Forces. Previously, exigency leave was limited to eligible employees with family members in the National Guard and Reserves. Exigency leave allows family members extra time to handle the exigencies involved with foreign deployment, such as financial, legal, and childcare arrangements, and also provides bonding time for military members on rest and recuperation leave. The maximum amount of time an employee may take under this type of leave also will increase from five to 15 calendar days.
Due to these changes, Thompson Coburn recommends that you review your current employee handbooks and/or policies to ensure continued compliance with the FMLA.