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Family Medical Leave
Oct 25, 2011

F.M.L.A. (Family Medical Leave Act)

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was signed into law by President Clinton on February 5, 1993 and was subsequently implemented through regulations issued by the Department of Labor. The FMLA is now incorporated in the Code of Federal Regulations as 29 CFR Part 825 (Final Rule, effective February 6, 1995).

The Act is intended to allow employees to balance their work and family life by taking reasonable unpaid leave for medical reasons, for the birth or adoption of a child, or the care of a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health condition. The bill was supported by the BMWE and the entire labor movement.

The law has had far reaching impact both on our agreements and company policies. For example, several companies have unilaterally promulgated so-called "no fault" absenteeism policies that treat any absence by an employee, regardless of reason, as grounds for discipline. However, since FMLA absences are established by law, they cannot be used as a basis to discipline an employee.

Rail Carriers must grant an employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
  • for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Frequently asked questions about the Family Medical Leave Act

Amtrak FMLA Employee Handbook

Carriers Abuse of FMLA

The Nation’s four largest railroads, (BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific) had instituted policies that required employees to substitute paid vacation and/or paid personal leave for unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The BMWED and TEAMSTER Rail Conference, along with other rail labor organizations challenged these carriers, and in July 2008, it was agreed to arbitrate the issue and question:

Do the Carrier’s policies requiring employees to substitute paid vacation and/or paid personal leave for unpaid FMLA leave violate the requirements of the national vacation and/or national personal leave agreements?

Resulting from this Special Board of Adjustment decision, a three-person arbitration panel reached a unanimous decision that these Carriers, who control a large portion of U.S. intercity rail freight traffic, no longer may require employees to substitute paid vacation and/or paid personal leave for unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The arbitration award becomes effective December 16, 2008 at which time the carriers must "immediately discontinue" the invalidated provisions of their FMLA policies. There is also a provision allowing follow-up proceedings to determine a monetary remedy for those who have taken FMLA leave and had to substitute paid vacation or paid personal leave for this time-period.

View Arbitration Award in printable form



"An Injury To One Is An Injury To All"





United Passenger Rail Federation BMWED-IBT
190 South Broad Street
Trenton, NJ 08608

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