The Department of Labor recently proposed new regulations designed to implement and interpret the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, which amended and expanded the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).  The amendments expand military caregiver leave and incorporate a special eligibility provision for airline flight crew members.

As set forth in the DOL’s informational notice, the major rule changes include:

  • Extension of entitlement to military caregiver leave to family members of veterans for up to 5 years after leaving the military.  Presently, the FMLA only covers family members of service members that are currently serving;
  • Expansion of qualifying exigency leave to employees whose family members serve in the regular armed forms, as opposed only to employees whose family members serve in the National Guard or reserves as provided by existing law;
  • A more flexible definition of “serious injury or illness” of a veteran; and
  • Several provisions specific to airline flight crew members aimed at increasing accessibility to FMLA benefits.

The regulations are not yet final and anyone that would like to submit comments on the proposed regulations may do so prior to April 16, 2012.  Following review of the comments, the DOL will release final regulations.

Employers subject to the FMLA should stay tuned as these regulations have the potential to significantly expand leave entitlement, most notably as it relates to military caregiver leave for veterans.

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