New: 2 Michigan Dems push for federal family leave changes

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    Updated, 1:33 p.m. 11/14/19 with comments from Rep. Levin

    Married couples who work for the same employer may be restricted in the amount of time off they can take under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but a new bipartisan bill seeks to expand the federal law. 

    U.S.. Rep. Haley Stevens | Andrew Roth

    U.S. Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) have introduced the Fair Access for Individuals to Receive (FAIR) Leave Act in the House.* 

    As the FMLA stands, a married couple employed by the company can be required to share a combined amount of time for some FMLA-qualifying leave reasons. 

    The bipartisan legislation would allow for spouses working for the same employer to each take up to 12 work weeks (24 total) of unpaid leave in a 12 month period for the birth of a child, the placement and adoption of a child or the care of a parent with a serious health condition. The legislation also will allow eligible spouses to each take 26 weeks to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

    “Regardless of their employer, working couples should never have to choose between keeping their job or caring for a loved one,” Stevens said Thursday. “Married couples should not be penalized for working for the same employer. The bipartisan, bicameral FAIR Leave Act is a commonsense solution that will help Michiganders take the time they need to care for a new child or an ailing parent, while maintaining their job security.”

    Levin called the bill a “no-brainer, bipartisan fix.”

    U.S. Capitol | Susan J. Demas

    “One important step we must take to rebuild the middle class is to ensure fairness in the workplace—especially as it pertains to parental leave,” Levin said. “It makes no sense to punish families because two parents are married and work for the same employer. The FAIR Leave Act is a no-brainer, bipartisan fix that will make sure that families have appropriate time to recover from labor and delivery, bond with their newborn and celebrate a growing family.”*

    Co-sponsors of the bill from the other side of the aisle are U.S. Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

    U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) are introducing the FAIR Leave Act in the Senate.

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues, LGBTQ issues and immigration. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.