Monday, November 12, 2007

Good News

We are glad to report that initiatives to reform parental leave laws are proceeding at the state and federal levels.

In Massachusetts, a bill to establish paid family and medical leave for all persons employed in the commonwealth is making its way through the legislature. It would require employers to offer 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to their workers. According to the State House News Service, the bill "would require employees to contribute to a 'Strong Families Trust Fund,' which would be used to compensate employees who leave work for medical reasons, to care for a newborn or to attend to an ill family member." Click here for the full story.

The House Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and the Senate Committee on Labor and Workforce Development held a joint hearing on Oct. 3. Happily, on Nov. 5, the Senate version of the bill was reported favorably by the committee and referred to the Senate Ways and Means committee.

Believe it or not, one of Fox News Channel's talking heads loves this bill! Click here to find out why.

For a dissenting view from the blogosphere, click here. The author, who testified against the bill at the Oct. 3 hearing, is a small business owner and Chamber of Commerce member.

In Congress, the Senate and House have introduced complementary bills.

With Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska co-sponsoring, Democrat Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, still a candidate for president, introduced the Family Leave Insurance Act in the Senate in June. It would reform the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) by requiring employers to provide eight weeks of paid leave under the conditions set by the act. It appears to cover pregnancy and maternity leave regardless of marital status.

For helpful context and sympathetic commentary from the blogosphere on Senator Dodd's bill, click here.

The House bill, sponsored by Republican Tom Davis of Virginia, Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and Democrat Carolyn Maloney, of New York, is narrower in scope. It would mandate eight weeks of paid leave, under the terms of FMLA, for all federal employees for birth or adoption. For a more complete story on the bill, click here.

Under the federal guidelines set by the FMLA, men and women working full-time in the United States in workplaces of 50 or more employees can take job-protected unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks. They may use a combination of paid annual leave, paid sick leave, and unpaid leave in the event of childbirth or adoption. According to, federal employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity or paternity leave and up to 13 days of paid sick leave to care for newborn or adopted children.

No debate has been scheduled as of yet for either bill in Congress.

No comments: