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Families of U.S. Military Gain in Proposal to Expand Eligibility

The Obama administration proposed rules expanding benefits of the family leave act to let relatives of military personnel care for injured veterans, and revised provisions for airline flight crews.

The Labor Department proposed extending for five years the right for a family member to take a leave after a relative leaves the military, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said. Previously, Family Medical Leave Act provisions expired when a service member left the military, she said. Time-off for emergencies will now cover families with relatives in all services, expanded from families of National Guard members and reservists.

“Keeping the basic promise of America alive means ensuring that workers, from our servicemen and servicewomen who keep us safe at home to the flight crews who keep us safe in the skies, have the resources, support and opportunities they need and have rightfully earned,” Solis said.

The new rule adds calculations to determine the amount of time used by airline crew members, which are often more difficult to determine than other jobs, Solis said.

The Department estimates that 15,500 eligible employees will take 854,000 days, or 6.8 million hours, of leave annually to act as a caregiver for a veteran who is undergoing treatment for a serious illness or injury. More than 193,000 family members could be covered by the changed rule, according to Labor Department statistics.

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