Sens. Dodd and Kennedy Introduce Bills To Expand 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act
Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced a bill yesterday -- the 10th anniversary of the enactment of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act -- that would allow states to provide as many as six weeks of paid leave for employees with a serious illness or to care for a newborn or family member with a serious illness, CongressDaily reports (Rovner, CongressDaily, 2/5). The Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act would establish a $400 million pilot program to allow states to provide six weeks of paid leave as part of the 12 weeks of unpaid leave available under FMLA (Dodd release, 2/5). In addition, the bill would expand FMLA, which applies to companies with 50 or more employees, to include those with 25 or more employees. The legislation also would allow leave for "victims of domestic violence, or to care for victims of domestic violence," CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 2/5). About 78% of the 3.5 million workers eligible for leave under FMLA did not take leave in 2000 because of financial concerns, according to the Department of Labor. "This measure can help ... by ensuring that more families are able to access the critically important benefits of family and medical leave," Dodd said (Dodd release, 2/5).
Two separate bills, the Family Time and Workplace Flexibility Act, introduced yesterday by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), and the Family Time Flexibility Act, introduced yesterday by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), also would expand access to leave. The bills would allow employees to take paid leave rather than overtime pay, provided that employers agree. "By providing workers with more options and more flexibility, we improve the quality of life for everyone in America who gets up and goes to work every day," Gregg said (CongressDaily, 2/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.