Today the House of Representatives passed legislation originally authored by Congressman Tim Bishop (NY-1) to ensure that flight crews are treated fairly and are able to qualify for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits. Airline pilots and flight attendants currently face unexpected hurdles to qualify for FMLA. These hurdles are unique to airline employees since their non-flying hours are not counted toward their total hours of service. To remedy this situation, Bishop introduced the Airline Flight Crew Family and Medical Leave Act to clarify the original FMLA 1993 law. Senator Patty Murray introduced a companion bill, which was passed by the Senate last month and came before the House for a final vote today. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.
"When airline crewmembers need to take time away from serving passengers in order to care for themselves or family members, they face unexpected hurdles. This bill would prevent crewmembers from being losing out on their FMLA benefits, which have helped so many working families in this country," said Bishop, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee.
"We are very pleased at the passage of Congressman Bishop's FMLA bill, which finally addresses loopholes in the current language that have denied many flight attendants from qualifying for coverage," said Patricia Friend, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. "Every flight attendant in this country is so grateful to Tim Bishop for passing this legislation on such a strong bipartisan basis."
The FMLA requires most employers to provide job-protected unpaid leave to employees who have worked 60 percent of a full-time schedule over the course of a year. However for flight crews, non-flight hours on the job, between flights or on mandatory stand-by do not count toward their FMLA credit. The Airline Flight Crew FMLA would correct this unintended oversight of the original legislation.