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Washington Labor & Employment Wire » House Passes Amendment to FMLA for Airline Flight Crews

House Passes Amendment to FMLA for Airline Flight Crews

On February 9, 2009, the House passed the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (H.R. 912) by voice vote. The bill would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by expanding coverage for flight attendants and pilots.

Enacted in 1993, the FMLA provides that covered employers must grant eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for the birth and care of a newborn child, the adoption of a child, the care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition or medical leave when the employee himself or herself is unable to work due to a serious health condition. Employees are generally eligible to receive this leave if they have been employed (1) for at least 12 months by the employer, and (2) have worked at least 1,250 hours within the previous 12 months.

The bill would expand FMLA coverage for flight attendants and pilots by rendering them eligible to receive the FMLA leave so long as they had worked or been paid for 60 percent of the “applicable monthly guarantee,” or the equivalent annualized over the preceding 12-month period, and for a minimum of 504 hours during the same period. An “applicable monthly guarantee” is the time employers schedule flight crews, including time spent on the job between flights or on mandatory standby. 

The bill, which had 53 co-sponsors including members from both parties, was introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) on February 9, 2009. The House suspended the rules, debated the bill, and passed the bill later that day. A parallel provision is expected to be introduced in the Senate soon.

The House had previously passed a similar bill during its last term (H.R. 2744, 110th Cong.), but the Senate failed to act on the bill before Congress adjourned.