Congresswoman Wilson and House Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Update the Family and Medical Leave Act
WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-03), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) introduced a legislative package of bills to update the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to ensure that more workers have access to job-protected leave to care for themselves and their loved ones.
FMLA was enacted more than 20 years ago to provide workers with job-protected leave to care for themselves or a family member. Since its enactment, FMLA has been used more than 200 million times and ensured that those workers did not have to choose between remaining employed or caring for a family member or themselves. Unfortunately, millions of workers find themselves outside of the law’s protections due to FMLA’s restrictive eligibility requirements and the narrow definition of family-related leave events. Approximately 40 percent of U.S. workers are currently excluded from FMLA’s protections.
“Working people are more productive than they have ever been, but they are still struggling to balance work and family,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott. “Today’s proposals will expand worker access to Family and Medical Leave Act protections; ensure that the law’s definition of family reflects modern caregiving relationships; and protect workers when they need time off to grieve for a family member or stay involved in the school and community activities of a child. Our nation’s families are doing all that they can to make a better life for themselves and their families. Here in Congress, we must do our part to support them through legislation that will level the playing field for working people across the nation.”
“The Family Leave for Parental Involvement in Education Act, which I introduced, allows employees to take up to 48 hours of leave during any 12-month period and up to 8 hours of leave during any 30-day period to attend school meetings and events. As both a parent and a former educator, I have experienced firsthand the benefits of parental involvement in their children’s educational and extracurricular activities. As studies have shown, such involvement has a remarkable impact on students, regardless of their economic background. They are more likely to have better social skills, earn higher grades and pursue post-secondary educational opportunities, and become successful contributors to society,” said Rep. Wilson, Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. “This legislative package is about so much more than access to paid or unpaid leave. It is about building and maintaining strong families and communities, which ultimately benefits businesses that offer flexible leave programs. Secure in the knowledge that they can take time off to attend a child’s event or care for a sick relative without jeopardizing their jobs will enhance worker loyalty and productivity. That’s win-win.”
“I was proud to vote for the original FMLA in 1993, and it’s been a godsend to American families. But we must recognize that times have changed, and our laws should evolve to reflect that families are not one-size-fits-all. These bills recognize that many workers are primary caregivers for grandparents, siblings, and others, and extends FMLA protection to millions of workers at businesses with 15 to 49 employees. I am proud to introduce these proposals with Ranking Member Scott, Rep. Wilson, Rep. Schakowsky, and others working each day on behalf of hardworking families,” said Rep. Maloney, the Ranking Member on the Joint Economic Committee.
“Nearly 1 in 2 workers is not eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act protections,” said Rep. Schakowsky, Ranking Member on the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee. “One key reason is that workers don’t qualify if they haven’t worked for single employer for 1,250 hours or more over the past year. The result is that many part-time workers – the majority of whom are women – risk their jobs if they take time off after giving birth or to provide care for a sick child, disabled spouse or aging parents. The Family and Medical Leave Act Protections for Part-time Workers Act recognizes that all workers– whether full-time or part-time – deserve FMLA protections. By eliminating the hours-worked requirement, it will ensure that no one is forced to choose between keeping their job and meeting their family obligations. I am proud to introduce my bill as part of a package of improvements to the FMLA.”
“The proposals to expand the FMLA being highlighted today, which would make leave available to more workers for more reasons, are very welcome and badly needed steps toward realizing the law’s now 23-year-old vision of ensuring no worker in this country has to lose a job when serious family and medical needs arise,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, which drafted and led the fight for the FMLA. “By passing these bills, Congress would make common sense updates to an already tremendously successful law to better reflect the realities of today’s families, workforce and economy. But fully realizing the FMLA’s promise of a family friendly America means finally passing the paid family and medical leave law the country has long needed and that must be a top priority as well.”