U.S. Senate Bill Plugs FMLA Hole

July 16, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) -U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) has introduced legislation plugging a hole in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which has kept airline pilots and flight attendants from being eligible for unpaid leave.

A Murray news release said The Airline Flight Crew Technical Correction Act provides that pilots and flight attendants are eligible by virtue of their work hours for FMLA-provided 12 weeks of unpaid leave time each year.

According to the news release, the FMLA requires workers seeking the unpaid leaves to have worked at least 1,250 hours or 60% of a full-time work schedule with unpaid leave due to a serious health condition or the need to care for a sick family member or a new child. The airline industry employees haven’t qualified because they are only credited with hours actually spent in flight and not for time spent in layovers and waiting to be called into service.

The proposal makes it possible for flight attendants and pilots to qualify for leave when they have fulfilled 60% of a full-time work schedule at their airline.

“Pilots and flight attendants deserve the same ability to balance work and family that is already guaranteed to millions of working Americans,” said Murray, in the news release. “These men and women spend long days, nights and sometimes weeks apart from their families and homes, and they should be able to take the time off they need.  The intention of the FMLA was never to exclude these workers. This bill ensures that the airline industry’s time-keeping methods don’t limit the time flight crews get to care for themselves and their families.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), Kit Bond (R-Missouri), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Jim Webb (D-Virginia).

More information on the bill is available here .