On December 21, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (S.1422, P.L. 111-119), legislation that amended the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to make sure that flight attendants and airline pilots are able to qualify for leave benefits. The law closes a loophole that, because of the way many aircrews' hours were being calculated by the courts, effectively excluded more than 200,000 flight attendants and pilots from coverage under the FMLA.
New eligibility rules for airline flight crews make sure that flight attendants and airline pilots are able to qualify for leave. The 1,250-hour employment threshold requirement had been applied to flight attendants and flight crew members in some cases by not counting time spent between flights on layovers, either during the day or overnight, or on mandatory standby due to scheduling requirements as counting towards the 1,250-hour threshold. This effectively meant that pilots and flight attendants had to have 1,250 hours of actual in-flight time to qualify for leave—an anomaly, since federal aviation regulations, for example, prohibit pilots from flying more than 1,000 hours a year.
To address this, the FMLA was changed to provide that an airline flight crew member is eligible to take FMLA leave if: (1) the crew member has either worked or been paid for 60 percent of the applicable monthly guarantee--or the equivalent amount annualized over the preceding 12-month period; and (2) the crew member has worked or been paid at least 504 hours during the previous 12-month period (not counting personal commute time or time spent on vacation leave or medical or sick leave). Note that the 1,250 hours of work requirement to be eligible for leave is roughly equivalent to working about 60 percent of a traditional 40-hour workweek.
The “applicable monthly guarantee” for an employee on reserve status is the minimum number of hours for which the employer has agreed to pay the employee for the month, under either the collective bargaining agreement or by the employer's policies. For employees other than those on reserve status, "applicable monthly guarantee" is the minimum number of hours for which the employer has agreed to schedule the employee for any given month under the applicable collective bargaining agreement or employer's policies.
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