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Public Statements

Introduction of Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, it is time to bring our nation's federal workplace policies into the 21st Century. Signed into law 20 years ago this past February, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides protections to almost 60 percent of the American workforce. This means approximately 90 million workers are covered and eligible for leave under current FMLA policies that allow for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work to care for a new baby or to care for a spouse, child under age 18, or parent who has a serious health condition. While this leave has provided critical work protections to individuals in times of great need, this landmark law does not go far enough in accommodating our modern workforce and families.

Polls related to recent cases before the Supreme Court show that more and more Americans support marriage equality and recognize the need to extend federal rights and privileges to all American families. With that goal in mind, I am introducing the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act that will allow same sex spouses and partners, grandparents, and other loved ones eligible to take family and medical leave to care for a sick family member. Under current federal law, such individuals do not qualify for FMLA, making it impossible for some employees to be with their loved ones during times of medical need.

Almost 600 employers, including more than two hundred fortune 500 companies, several states, the District of Columbia, and some local jurisdictions have extended these protections to individuals not originally included in the original Family and Medical Leave Act. The legislation I am introducing today would allow an employee to take unpaid leave from work if his or her same-sex spouse or domestic partner has a serious health condition. It also permits employees to take FMLA to care for a parent-in-law, adult child, sibling, grandchild or grandparent if that person has a serious health condition. Additionally, given repeal of don't ask don't tell, this legislation includes domestic partners of service members as permissible candidates for FMLA.

I thank Senator Richard Durbin for introducing this legislation on the Senate side as well as my colleagues who have signed on as original supporters. I urge swift passage of this bill.

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