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FAMILY Act reintroduced

Provides for 12 weeks of paid leave

Posted February 21, 2019

On February 12, 2019, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) reintroduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act (HR 1185/S 463), legislation that would create a universal, gender-neutral, national paid family and medical leave program. The measure would entitle all employees to take up to 60 workday or 12 weeks of paid leave for a pregnancy, the birth or adoption of a child, recovery from a serious illness, or to care for a seriously ill family member — the same reason an employee may take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Specifically, the FAMILY Act would do the following:

  • Provide up to 12 weeks of partial wages to working people who need to take time away from their jobs to address a serious personal or family health issue, to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, or for circumstances arising from a loved one’s military deployment or serious injury;
  • Be self-funded through payroll contributions from employers and employees of two-tenths of 1% each (two cents per $10 in wages), or about $4 a week total, split between employers and employees;
  • Guarantee portable coverage so that workers who have multiple jobs, change jobs, or are self-employed are provided with the same security as traditional employees; and
  • Provide 66% wage replacement, capped at $4,000 a month.
  • Be administered through a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave. Payroll contributions would cover both insurance benefits and administrative costs.

Leave taken under both the FAMILY Act and the FMLA could run concurrently, since one provides income replacement, and one does not.

The measure had been introduced in past Congresses since 2013, but never made it out of committee. At the time of writing, the current bill had 164 original cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 34 in the Senate. It was also endorsed by more than 630 organizations.

Currently, 8 states (California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia) have paid family leave provisions, while 12 (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia) have paid sick leave provisions.

The growing list of states with paid leave provisions might give support to the idea of a federal paid leave law. Congress, however, would first need to pass such a piece of legislation. While the FAMILY Act might make it through the House, it has a challenge in the Senate.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

Essentials of FMLAJ. J. Keller's Essentials of FMLA manual helps HR pros understand and comply with the FMLA rules, control costs related to leave taken, and minimize the law's potential disruption to their organizations' operations.


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