The Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act
H.R. 1751; S. 846
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) grants legally married spouses up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work to care for a seriously ill spouse, parent or child. With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. United States in June 2013, lawfully-married same-sex spouses are now recognized for FMLA purposes (although pending regulatory changes must still be completed before married couples living in states that do not recognize their marriages are eligible). However, there are still employees who cannot access marriage due to discriminatory state marriage laws and thus continue to be denied access to this critical benefit and the ability to be with their loved ones during times of medical need. This inequity harms the competitiveness of the American workforce by forcing employees to choose between caring for a partner and keeping a job.
What is the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act?
The Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act (FMLIA) would expand FMLA to permit an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work if his or her domestic partner has a serious health condition. It would also permit employees to take unpaid leave to care for a child of a domestic partner, as well as a parent-in-law, adult child, sibling or grandparent.
Experience of State Governments and Private Employers
Many state and local governments and private employers already include families headed by same-sex couples for purposes of family leave. They recognize that an inclusive workforce is a competitive workforce. These employers realize that not applying FMLA protections to all workers greatly limits the law’s intent to provide a stable and continuous workforce by helping employees retain their jobs when a family emergency strikes.
The HRC Foundation tracks employers that provide FMLA-like benefits to employees with same-sex domestic partners or spouses. As of January 2014, the HRC Foundation was aware of over 640 employers, including 280 of the Fortune 500 companies, extending FMLA benefits to include leave on behalf of a same-sex domestic partner or spouse. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia include domestic partners or same-sex spouses in state family and medical leave laws. The experience of these governmental and private employers shows that extending FMLA eligibility benefits both employees and employers alike.
What is the Current Status of the Bill?
FMLIA was reintroduced in the 113th Congress in the House of Representatives by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and in the Senate by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on April 25, 2013.