Maloney Introduces Legislation to Expand Family Leave Protections

Jun 13, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) introduced the Family Medical Leave Modernization Act of 2018 to bring family medical leave into the 21st century. The FMLA Modernization Act would expand FMLA eligibility, cover parental involvement leave, and modernize the FMLA definition of family.

Current law only protects workers who put in at least 1,250 hours over 12 months and work for an employer with 50 or more employees; this excludes approximately 40 percent of workers. This new legislation would lower the employer threshold to 15 employees, matching the threshold in the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. FMLA currently does not allow for parents to take leave to attend their children’s and grandchildren’s activities sponsored by a school or community organization. Under the FMLA Modernization Act, employees would be able to take up to 24 hours of leave during any 12-month period and up to 4 hours of leave during any 30-day period for parental involvement leave. Lastly, the current definition of family in FMLA does not contend with today’s definition of family. The FMLA Modernization Act would change that by reflecting a broader range of caregiving relationships, including coverage for relationships that are the equivalent of a family relationship but are not bound by blood or legal ties, ensuring that workers can use leave to care for a domestic partner, parent-in-law, aunt, uncle, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, son/daughter-in-law or other significant relationships.

“No one should have to choose between caring for their loved ones or losing their jobs. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was an important first step in tackling this dilemma but with 40 percent of the work force ineligible for FMLA leave, it’s past time to modernize this 25-year-old law,” said Rep. Maloney. “The FMLA Modernization Act of 2018 will require more businesses to provide FMLA leave for their employees and expand who can qualify for leave to reflect family care-giving today. Families come in all shapes and sizes and it is time for the FMLA to reflect that.”

The FMLA Modernization Act has been endorsed by nationwide and local organizations across the country:

National Organizations: 2020 Mom; 9to5 National Association; A Better Balance; American Sustainable Business Council; Center for American Progress; Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Center for Parental Leave Leadership; Family Values @ Work; Federally Employed Women; Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.; Interfaith Worker Justice; Main Street Alliance; MomsRising; National Council of Jewish Women; National Partnership for Women & Families; National Women’s Law Center; NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; Oxfam America; Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; Women Employed; ZERO TO THREE

State Organizations: 9to5 Wisconsin; California Work & Family Coalition; Citizen Action of New York; Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF); Economic Opportunity Institute, Seattle, WA; Maine Women's Lobby; New York Paid Leave Coalition; Southwest PA National Organization for Women

John B. Minor, Policy Panager at American Sustainable Business Council said, "ASBC supports this proposal because it would create a more modern leave policy that is responsive to the needs of modern families. This proposal is a step in the right direction towards implementing high-road employment practices nationwide. We applaud Rep. Maloney for introducing this bill and attempting to create a better working environment for all employees."

Pronita Gupta, Director of Job Quality at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) said, “Not enough workers are currently eligible to receive unpaid leave. Expanding the FMLA’s eligibility provisions will bring the Act’s critical job protection provisions to more low-wage workers. We thank Congresswoman Maloney for her attention to this issue.”

Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of Main Street Alliance said, “Our economy and small businesses suffer without a federal paid leave policy.  While the Family and Medical Leave Act was an important first step, far too many small business owners and employees are left out of its protections. This bill is an important next step, extending the job protections of the FMLA to small businesses and their employees, and updating the family definition to represent 21st century families. Our small business members support these steps that level the playing field with larger employers.”

Dr. Laura E. Durso, Vice President, LGBT Research and Communications Project, Center for American Progress said, “The reality of people’s lives is that all of us may be called on one day to care for our loved ones and Rep. Maloney’s Family Medical Leave Modernization Act of 2018 reflects that universal experience.  Ensuring that families protected under FMLA include the many significant relationships that go beyond blood and legal ties – our chosen families – would mean we can better meet the needs of the nearly one third of workers who report having taken time off to care for friends or chosen family.”

National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness said, “Twenty-five years ago, our nation took a major step toward a more equitable and family friendly future when the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) became law,” “As the organization that drafted and led the fight for the FMLA, we are proud that it has transformed our nation’s workplaces and culture. By expanding the FMLA’s protections to more working people, and including a broader range of family relationships, the FMLA Modernization Act would take an important step toward advancing the FMLA’s promise of a family friendly America. We urge Congress to pass it very soon.”

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director,á said, “No one should be punished for taking time off to support a family member, but for the last quarter century, our limited definition of family has prevented people from taking care of their loved ones. This update is essential to the economic well-being of Americans and shows our country’s dedication to families of all shapes and sizes. But we can’t stop here – we must pass universal paid family and medical leave so no one has to choose between taking care of a loved one and a paycheck.”