Family Leave Insurance Act Introduced

April 15, 2009

The Family Leave Insurance Act of 2009, introduced on March 25th by four (4) House Democrats, would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide up to 12 weeks of paid Family and Medical Leave. A fund would be established and administered by the Secretary of Labor which would provide benefits for employees taking leave

(1) because of a serious health condition; (2) the birth or adoption of a child; (3) to care for a family member with a serious health condition; (4) any qualifying emergency arising from the fact that a spouse, child or parent of the employee is on active military duty; (5) to care for a family member who is a covered service member; (6) and a new provision of Family and Medical Leave coverage — grant leave to employees who need to care for an ill domestic partner or a child of a domestic partner — thereby affording the protections of the FMLA to lesbian, gay, by-sexual and transgender (LGBT) employees.

Under the proposal, employees would contribute .02% of their annual earnings to the insurance fund and employers would be required to match employee payments. Benefit amounts would be tiered according to income level and indexed for inflation under the Social Security Wage Index.

The legislation is also adding prohibitions against employers from interference, discrimination or retaliation concerning an employee's exercise of rights under the Act and would give employees a corresponding private right of action. The Secretary of Labor would have investigative authority and would be authorized to bring an administrative or civil action. The bill also provides criminal penalties for knowingly submitting or helping another to submit a false certification in order to fraudulently collect benefits.

Similar legislation has been introduced in past years but it failed to make it out of committee. SESCO will monitor the progress of this and other proposed employment legislation.

As with the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), we strongly suggest that you contact business groups such as Chambers of Commerce and, most importantly, your elected officials to include federal and state politicians as many states are adopting their own comprehensive Family and Medical Leave regulations.

For more information on this proposed Act or any question concerning human resources or employee relations, please know we are as close as your telephone and welcome your call.