The rule implements congressional amendments to the FMLA permitting eligible workers to take up to 26 workweeks of leave to care for a current service member with a serious injury or illness. Congress also created qualifying exigency leave, which permits eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of leave for qualifying exigencies arising out of active duty or call to active duty in support of a contingency operation of a family member serving in the National Guard or Reserve. This means that workers can attend a spouse’s farewell and welcome home ceremonies without being penalized at work. They also can spend time with family members on leave from active duty service without risking their jobs.
The final rule also implements amendments clarifying the application of the FMLA to airline personnel and flight crews. Until the amendments, many flight crews did not meet FMLA eligibility criteria due to the unique way in which their hours are counted. The legislation authorized the department to tailor FMLA regulations that extend protections to these uniquely situated employees.