Rep. Stevens Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Close Family Leave Loophole

November 14, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Haley Stevens (D-MI-11), Katie Porter (D-CA-45), Andy Levin (D-MI-09), Peter King (R-NY-02), John Katko (R-NY-24) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that married couples who work for the same employer are not restricted in the amount of leave they can take under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a loved one. U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Tina Smith (D-MN) are introducing similar legislation in the Senate.

“Regardless of their employer, working couples should never have to choose between keeping their job or caring for a loved one,” said Rep. Haley Stevens. “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.”

Under the current FMLA, a married couple who works for the same employer can be required to share a combined amount of time for family leave to bond with a new child or care for an ailing parent. The FAIR Leave Act corrects this by ensuring married couples who work for the same employer can each have the time off to which they are individually entitled.

The bipartisan Fair Access for Individuals to Receive (FAIR) Leave Act enables eligible 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 following FMLA-qualifying reasons: the birth of a son or daughter; the placement and adoption of a child; or the care of a parent with a serious health condition. The legislation will also allow eligible spouses to each take 26 weeks to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

The FAIR Leave Act addresses the shortcomings of the FMLA to provide more comprehensive and effective leave for American families. While the FMLA provides unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, it limits the amount of leave that married couples working for the same employer may take for some, but not all, FMLA-qualifying leave reasons. The bipartisan, bicameral FAIR Leave Act will repeal this provision, thereby improving the Family and Medical Leave Act to ensure couples can take the critical time off needed for the full range of reasons that other employees are entitled to, like bonding with a newborn or adopted child, serving as a caregiver for an ailing parent, and caring for a returning servicemember, in addition to supporting the medical needs of their spouse or themselves.

The Fair Leave Act is supported by the Bipartisan Policy Center, Military Officers Association of America, Independent Women’s Forum, A Better Balance, National Partnership for Women & Families, 1000 Days, PL+US, NEA, and the American Federation of Teachers.