FMLA Amended For Airline Flight Crews

Contributed by Karuna Brunk

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a statement regarding expanded protection to military families.  Hidden in the discussion of military families and DOL’s commitment to those who serve was a single statement about added regulations to the Family Medical Leave Act for airline flight crew employees.   

In fact, on February 5, 2013, DOL issued a final rule to implement the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act, which established leave eligibility requirements for airline flight crewmembers and attendants.  Essentially, the new rule attempts to account for airline employees’ unusual and unique work schedules. 

The Specifics for Aviation Employers:

  • DOL’s new rule implements a minimum hourly work requirement for airline employees to be eligible for FMLA leave.  For airline flight employees to be eligible for FMLA under the new amendments, they must have worked or been paid for not less than 60 percent of the applicable total monthly guarantee.  Additionally, they must have worked or been paid for not less than 504 hours during the 12 months prior to their leave. 
  • The DOL rule entitles airline flight crew employees to 72 days of leave during any 12-month period for one or more FMLA-qualifying reasons (i.e. birth of a child, care of a family member, serious health condition, etc.).  DOL established the 72 days of leave based on a six-day workweek for all airline flight crew employees, regardless of how much time the employees actually worked.  This was multiplied by the statutory 12-workweek entitlement under FMLA. 
  • Because DOL has recalculated how much leave an airline flight crew employee can take based on days, employers must track FMLA leave, intermittent leave, or a reduced schedule in increments of one day
  • Employers have new record keeping requirements – record and keep documents that contain information specifying the monthly FMLA guarantee for each category of employee, including any copies of collective bargaining agreements or employer policy documents.  Also employers should record the hours worked and hours paid for each employee.  

The Department of Labor has released a new FMLA poster discussing the new final rule that can be found here.