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- Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

Special Rules for Airline Flight Crew Employees

On December 21, 2009, the President signed into law the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act, Public Law 111-119, amending sections 101(2) and 102(a) of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This amendment to the FMLA:

  1. established a special hours of service eligibility requirement for airline flight attendants and flight crewmembers; and
  2. authorized DOL to create regulations regarding the calculation of FMLA leave for airline flight attendants and flight crewmembers as well as recordkeeping requirements for employers of those employees.

Airline flight attendants and flight crewmembers continue to be subject to the FMLA’s other eligibility requirements. (See § 825.110)


HOURS OF SERVICE REQUIREMENT (See § 825.801)

An airline flight attendant or flight crewmember (“airline flight crew employee”) meets the hours of service requirement depending on the number of hours the employee has worked or been paid for over the previous 12 months.

An airline flight crew employee will meet the hours of service requirement during the previous 12-month period if he or she has:

  • worked or been paid for not less than 60 percent of the employee’s applicable monthly guarantee (or its equivalent); AND
  • has worked or been paid for not less than 504 hours.

Applicable Monthly Guarantee

  • The applicable monthly guarantee for an airline flight crew employee who is not on reserve status (line holder) is the minimum number of hours for which an employer has agreed to schedule such employee for any given month.
  • The applicable monthly guarantee for an airline flight crew employee who is on reserve status is the minimum number of hours for which an employer has agreed to pay the employee for any given month.

504 Hours Worked or Paid

  • The hours an airline flight crew employee has worked for purposes of the hours of service requirement are the employee’s duty hours during the previous 12-month period.
  • The hours an airline flight crew employee has been paid for is the number of hours for which an employee received wages during the previous 12-month period.
  • The 504 hours do not include personal commute time or time spent on vacation, medical, or sick leave.

CALCULATION OF LEAVE (See § 825.802)

An eligible airline flight crew employee is entitled to 72 days of FMLA leave during any 12-month period for one, or more, of the following FMLA-qualifying reasons:

  1. For birth of a son or daughter, and to care for the newborn child;
  2. For placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
  3. To care for the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition;
  4. Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee's job; and
  5. Because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in support of a contingency operation.

An eligible airline flight crew employee is entitled to 156 days of military caregiver leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

This entitlement is based on a uniform six-day workweek for all airline flight crew employees, regardless of time actually worked or paid for, multiplied by the statutory 12-workweek (or 26-workweek for military caregiver leave) entitlement for FMLA leave. For example, if an airline flight crew employee took six weeks of leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the employee would use 36 days (six days x six weeks) of the employee’s 72-day entitlement.

When an airline flight crew employee takes FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis, the employer must account for the leave with an increment no greater than one day. For example, if an airline flight crew employee needs to take MFLA leave for a two-hour physical therapy appointment, the employer may require the employee to use a full day of FMLA leave. The entire amount of leave actually taken (in this example, one day) is designated as FMLA leave and counts against the employee’s FMLA entitlement.

See Fact Sheet 28J – Special Rules for Airline Flight Crew Employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act for additional information regarding FMLA and airline flight crew employees.

RECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS (See § 825.803)

Employers of airline flight crew employees must comply with the recordkeeping requirements that all covered employers must follow. (See § 825.500) They must also maintain records and documents containing information specifying the applicable monthly guarantee, including copies of any relevant collective bargaining agreements or employer policy documents, and records of hours worked and hours paid.