Image: Flight attendant
RICK WILKING  /  Reuters
Airline crews have not been covered under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act because they do not work traditional 40-hour weeks.
updated 11/11/2009 12:03:44 PM ET 2009-11-11T17:03:44

Flight attendants are a step closer to qualifying for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Senate late Tuesday approved a measure to clarify the intent of the landmark law so that airline flight crews are covered.

The 1993 law grants eligible workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family emergencies or after the birth of children. It generally covers employers with 50 or more workers.

Flight crews were considered excluded under the original law because they don't work traditional 40-hour weeks.

The House has already passed virtually identical legislation. House members are expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill before the end of the year.

Union officials hope it will be ready for President Barack Obama's signature by year's end.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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