Thursday, January 14, 2010

From a Fellow Advocate

from Eileen Hitch, Hotline Advocate since Spring 2007

This is regarding a new FMLA bill that congress is reviewing. A special clause is dedicated to people impacted by DV, sexual assault or stalking, with time off approved for medical care, legal proceedings and attending counseling or support groups.

I'm not sure about the likelihood of this bill actually passing, but at least this type of legislation is being considered. Thought it was worthwhile to pass on....


Something benignly called “The Balancing Act of 2009″ is getting serious consideration in Congress this year. It’s really just another paid-FMLA proposal, but it has a real chance of passing this time.

To facilitate passage, a number of proposals were recently consolidated within a single bill that could bring about the most sweeping reforms since the Family and Medical Leave Act became law 16 years ago. On June 25, 2009, Representative Lynn Woolsey (D. CA) introduced the bill, which incorporates multiple expansion efforts. Taken together, these provisions could have significant implications for employers and employees alike.

Within the bill is a proposal that would essentially convert FMLA to a paid-leave statute, allowing employees to take upwards of 12 weeks of paid leave over a 12-month period for qualifying family, medical or military-exigency reasons. Here’s the way it would work:

* A federal “Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund” would be established to finance paid-leave distributions.

* Employers and employees would jointly subsidize the trust fund by contributing 0.2% of employee earnings. That comes out to an average of about $100 per employee. The fund would be managed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

* The act would expand FMLA coverage by creating new forms of protected leave for both “parental involvement” and “family wellness.” Parental-involvement leave would allow workers to participate in certain academic and extracurricular activities of their children and grandchildren, while family-wellness leave would enable employees to assist family members in attending medical appointments and to care for elderly relatives.

* The legislation contains additional provisions that would: 1) require covered employers to provide a minimum of seven days of paid sick leave per year; 2) extend protection to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; and, 3) allow leave to care for a broader category of family members, which would include domestic partners and same-sex spouses.

* While the FMLA currently covers only employers with 50 or more employees, the Balancing Act would expand the coverage to those with 15 or more employees. The bill would also extend eligibility to certain part-time employees who work 1,050 or more hours
per year, a substantial reduction from the current minimum threshold of 1,250 hours per year.

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