New rule announced benefitting military families and airline flight crewsWASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor today marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act by issuing a final rule implementing two important expansions of FMLA protections. The first expansion provides families of eligible veterans with the same job-protected FMLA leave currently available to families of military service members and it also enables more military families to take leave for activities that arise when a service member is deployed. The second expansion modifies existing rules so that airline personnel and flight crews are better able to make use of the FMLA's protections. "Enabling our military families to care for their loved ones without fear of losing their job and to actively participate in deployment, reunification and recovery reflects our deeper understanding of the role family members have in sustaining an all-volunteer force. Today's rule makes clear this administration's strong, ongoing commitment to respond to the needs and sacrifices of our military families. The rule also helps ensure that pilots and flight crews will no longer need to choose between career and caring for a loved one," said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. The rule, being expanded today, implemented congressional amendments to the FMLA permitting eligible workers to take up to 26 workweeks of leave to care for a current service member with a serious injury or illness. Congress also created qualifying exigency leave, which permits eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of leave for qualifying exigencies arising out of active duty or call to active duty in support of a contingency operation of a family member serving in the National Guard or Reserve. This means that workers can attend a spouse's farewell and welcome home ceremonies without being penalized at work. They also can spend time with family members on leave from active duty service without risking their jobs.