The Department of Labor recently issued a final rule related to military caregivers and exigency leaves for employers that are covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

Several of the changes in the FMLA final rule became effective on March 8, such as military caregiver leave for veterans, qualifying exigency leave for parental care and the special leave calculation method for flight crew employees.

Further, employers covered under FMLA are required to post the new FMLA poster immediately and make sure their policies comply with the new FMLA requirements
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Major provisions of the final rule include:
  • Defining a covered veteran, consistent with statutory limitations, as limited to veterans discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable five years prior to the date the employee’s military caregiver leave begins. 
  • Creating a flexible definition for serious injury or illness of a covered veteran, that includes four alternatives only one of which must be met. 
  • Permitting eligible employees to obtain certification of a service member’s serious injury or illness (both current service members and veterans) from any health care provider as defined in the FMLA regulations, not only those affiliated with the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, or Tricare networks (as was permitted under the 2009 regulations). 
  • Extending qualifying exigency leave to eligible employees who are family members of members of the Regular Armed Forces and adding the requirement for all military members to be deployed to a foreign country in order to be on “covered active duty” under the FMLA. 
  • Increasing the amount of time an employee may take for qualifying exigency leave related to the military member’s Rest and Recuperation (R&R) leave from five days to up to 15 days. 
  • Creating an additional qualifying exigency leave category for parental care leave to provide care necessitated by the covered active duty of the military member for the military member’s parent who is incapable of self-care. 
  • Creating a unique method of calculation of leave for airline flight crew employees, and establishing that FMLA leave for intermittent or reduced schedule leave usage, taken by airline flight crew employees, must be accounted for using an increment no greater than one day. 
The new forms related to this rule are available here: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/2013rule/militaryForms.htm