STRENGTHENING EDUCATION, FAMILIES, & BUSINESSES

Feb 27, 2003
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) introduced legislation to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act, the law that protects employees who need time off from work to care for a newborn or a sick spouse, parent, or child.
Maloney's bill (H.R. 956) would broaden the protections in the original law to allow employees in companies with more than 25 employees to take family or medical leave. Current law applies only to companies with 50 or more employees. Maloney's legislation would also allow employee leave for workers to meet their family's education and health needs; the legislation includes 24 hours of leave during any 12-month period for parents and grandparents to go to parent-teacher conferences or to take their children, grandchildren or other family members to the doctor for regular medical or dental appointments.

Congresswoman Maloney said, "The Family and Medical Leave Act has been a shining success for families and businesses alike. Many employers have found that the Family and Medical Leave Act actually saves them money in reduced turnover and enhanced employee productivity. Now is the time to broaden the circle of those who benefit from this landmark legislation. Parental involvement is the key to a strong education. Allowing parents the time to visit their children's teachers will improve learning, strengthen families, and benefit the entire economy in the long run. The same is true for the provision in this amendment allowing parental leave for family members' visits to the doctor. Currently, Family and Medical Leave isn't available when parents need to go to a parent-teacher conference or take their children to the doctor for regular medical appointments. Allowing parents to be there for their children is the right thing to do for families and businesses long term."

BACKGROUND: Ten years ago this month, President Clinton signed into law the Family and Medical Leave Act (PL 103-3), legislation that allows employees to take time off from work to care for a new baby or sick family member. Because of this landmark legislation, more than 35 million Americans have been able to take unpaid leave without the risk of losing their jobs. Originally envisioned by some as job-preserving legislation for women, FMLA has become a law that benefits fathers greatly as well, and entire families; by 1999, 40% of the 20 million workers who had taken unpaid leave were men (U.S. News & World Report, 02/24/03). Currently, the FMLA allows qualified workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for newborns, seek emergency medical care for themselves, parents, children under 18 or a legal spouse.
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In 1997, this legislative measure was supported by President Bill Clinton, who said, "I call upon Congress to expand the family leave law to give parents an additional 24 hours of unpaid leave each year to take a child or an elderly relative to a regular doctor's appointment or to attend parent-teacher conferences at school. In so doing, we'll make our families stronger and our workers more productive, building the kind of country and economy we all want for our children."

Original cosponsors of H.R. 956 are Representatives Martin Frost (TX), Joe Crowley (NY), José Serrano (NY), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Jan Schakowsky (IL), E. H. Norton (DC), J. Millender-McDonald (CA), Grace Napolitano (CA), Jim McDermott (WA), Major Owens (NY), and Barney Frank (MA).


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