Workplace Leave Policies
added July 2009
- July 2009
[added July 2009]
Several pieces of legislation have been introduced in the 111th Congress affecting workplace leave policies. Two of these would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). H.R. 398 (the “Family Fairness Act,” Baldwin, D-WI-2) and 14 Democratic cosponsors) proposes to eliminate FMLA’s hours of service requirement and cover part-time workers. H.R. 824, (the “Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act,” Maloney, D-NY-14) and 13 Democratic cosponsors) proposes to provide FMLA leave to the workers of employers of 25 or more employees (the current cutoff is 50), and to provide FMLA leave for “parental involvement.” Both bills have been referred to the Committees on Education & Labor, Oversight & Government Reform, and House Administration. While little interest has been shown in extending FMLA leave to part-time employees, more interest has been shown in narrowing the small employer exemption and in adding events to “trigger” FMLA leave, so H.R. 824 has the attention of the employer community.
Several bills outside of the FMLA’s orbit affecting workplace leave have been introduced this year. These include H.R. 933 (the “Family Friendly Workplace Act,” McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5 and 17 Republican cosponsors), which proposes to permit private sector employees to take paid time off as compensation for working overtime hours. The measure has been referred to the Education & Labor Committee. A Republican bill in a Democratic-dominated Congress, this “comp time” bill isn’t expected to go anywhere in the 111th Congress.
Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA-13) and 32 Democratic cosponsors have introduced H.R. 1723, the “Family Leave Insurance Act of 2009.” Although the bill does not amend the FMLA it provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for FMLA-like purposes. Unlike FMLA, it covers employees of employers of as few as two workers. This paid leave bill is not considered a good bet for enactment in the 111th Congress. The same is true for H.R. 1274, the “Working Families Flexibility Act” (Maloney, D-NY-14 and six Democratic cosponsors), H.R. 2161, the “Family and Medical Leave Restoration Act” (Shea-Porter, D-NH-1 and 29 Democratic cosponsors) which proposes to nullify recent changes to the FMLA regulations, and H.R. 25564, the “Paid Vacation Act” (Grayson, D-FL-8 and two Democratic cosponsors).
A strong candidate for enactment in the 111th Congress is the NAW-opposed “Healthy Families Act” (H.R. 2460, DeLauro, D-CT-3 and 105 Democratic cosponsors; S. 1152, Kennedy, D-MA and 20 Democratic cosponsors). The HFA would require employers of 15 or more employees to permit all workers (including part-time employees) to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours (seven days) of paid sick leave. H.R. 2460 was the subject of a June 8th hearing in the Education & Labor Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee. The HFA is considered by many to be an incremental step toward paid FMLA leave.