President Obama Signs Into Law FMLA Amendment Permitting Airline Pilots and Flight Attendants To Qualify for FMLA Leave

As anticipated, cn December 21, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act.  See my prior post concerning the new legislation. 

House Passes Bill for Second Time to Cover Airline Crews

On February 9, 2009, the House passed the Airline Flight Crew Family and Medical Leave Act (H.R. 912), which  would make it easier for flight attendants and pilots to meet the hours of service requirements of the FMLA.  The measure aims to close a loophole that reportedly excludes more than 200,000 flight attendants and pilots from FMLA coverage. 

Under the FMLA, to qualify for leave employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the leave.  Currently, hours spent by airline employees in flight count towards the hours of service requirement, but hours spent on the job between flights or on mandatory standby do not.  Under the House bill, a flight attendant or pilot would meet the hours of service requirement if he or she worked or was paid for 60% 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.  Under the bill, the Secretary of Labor would issue regulations providing a method of calculating leave for airline flight crews.

The House passed a similar bill in May, 2008, but the Senate did not act on it before Congress adjourned.  A similar bill is expected to be introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash).