House lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make companies with 25 or more workers comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act — not just companies with at least 50 employees, as current law dictates.
Generally, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to have a baby, take care of a newborn, adopt a child, care for an ill family member or to recover from a serious health condition. Currently, full-time workers in businesses with at least 50 employees qualify, as do those in public-sector jobs, as long as they have worked for the employer for at least a year and spent 1,250 hours on the job within the prior 12 months.
The FMLA Enhancement Act, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., would lower the threshold to 25 employees. Maloney's bill would also allow workers to use FMLA time to attend school events such as parent-teacher conferences for their children or grandchildren.
The bill has been referred to a House subcommittee but has not yet been acted upon. Given the crowded congressional agenda, it's not clear when the measure will be taken up. By early November 2009, Maloney's bill had attracted 13 co-sponsors, all Democrats — a small fraction of the 113 co-sponsors who signed on to the Healthy Families Act, a higher-profile bill that would allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Maloney's bill could also attract the opposition of business groups, who argue that the Healthy Families Act could harm small businesses that are already struggling in the current recession. And there is no Senate version yet.
Given all of this, we're tempted to call the promise Stalled. However, portions of the bill could easily be grafted on to the Healthy Families Act, which has a better chance of being taken up by Congress, although probably not until 2010. Because of this scenario, we'll rate this one In the Works.