Bipartisan delegation introduces bill to expand Family and Medical Leave Act to cover loss of child
Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Don Beyer (D-VA), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Paul Cook (R-CA) have introduced bipartisan legislation to help families grieving the loss of a child take time off work.
H.R. 983, the “Parental Bereavement Act of 2019” or the “Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act” would add “death of a child” as a life event that would qualify for unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allowing a grieving parent up to 12 weeks to mourn a child’s loss and then return to work. The FMLA currently mandates up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family events, including the birth of a child, during which an employer cannot terminate an employee who qualifies for such leave.
The legislation was introduced this week marking the 26th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was signed into law on February 5, 1993.
“The death of a child is a loss like no other, yet our current laws leave no time for parents to grieve and begin the recovery process,” said Rep. Schneider (D-IL). “I am proud to introduce this legislation making commonsense improvements to the Family and Medical Leave Act so employees can take the unpaid time off they need to care for their families and heal following such a tragic loss. I am particularly inspired by the families in whose memory this bill is named, who have turned the pain of the loss of a child into advocacy on behalf of other families facing the same unimaginable tragedy.”
“There is no greater loss then the death of a child,” said Rep. Gosar D.D.S (R-AZ). “As conservatives, we believe families are the foundation of our nation. Expanding the FMLA to include parental bereavement is common sense, fair and long overdue. I’m proud to work with my colleagues to provide the some relief to grieving parents and a positive change to our current system.”
“Expanding the FMLA to include parental bereavement is the most compassionate action we can take to do something, no matter how small, to help bereaved families,” said Rep. Beyer (D-VA).“This legislation is a good start to make a positive change and I’m proud to support it.”
“Family and life are some of our most precious gifts,” said Rep. Webster (R-FL). “As a father and grandfather, I cannot fathom the grief that comes with the loss of a beloved son or daughter. Updating the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow employees protected time-off to grieve their tragic loss is the right thing to do.”
“No parent should be denied the right or opportunity to grieve for their child. Many parents who experience this sort of tragedy may never recover,” said Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY). “It is time to pass this common-sense legislation, which will allow families the time off from work they need to recover following a devastating loss. I am especially passionate about this bill, because it is named after the child of my constituents. Who, since losing their daughter to cancer, have worked so hard to ensure that other parents are able to properly cope with the same tragedy.”
“This is a common-sense expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act,” said Rep. Cook (R-CA). “Losing a child is a catastrophic life-altering event and parents should be afforded the time they need to grieve and heal. I’m pleased to be part of this bipartisan effort and hope Congress takes up the bill soon.”
The legislation is endorsed by The Farley-Kluger Initiative—a movement which began in 2011 to amend FMLA to include parental bereavement.
“On behalf of grieving parents, and in memory of Noah and Katie Farley and Erica Kluger, we thank the sponsors of this bill for their compassion and common sense approach to American workers who suffer the loss of a child,” said Kelly Farley and Barry Kluger, authors of the Farley-Kluger Initiative. “This legislation will enable those who suffer this tragedy to take the time necessary to deal with this loss and be productive colleagues and employees, not to mention stronger family members.”