Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut says he will propose legislation that would give eligible employees at least 6 weeks of paid leave to care for themselves, their children, and immediate family members under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Dodd says his legislation would also expand the number of individuals eligible for FMLA leave. Dodd was the author of the FMLA, which was signed into law in 1993.
"Besides our nation's families, our nation's economy, its production and its competitiveness are threatened when families are forced to choose between the job they need and the family they love," Dodd says. "FMLA was a milestone in our nation's dialogue, acknowledging that families, workforce production, and competitiveness are not mutually exclusive."
In announcing his proposal for expanding FMLA, Dodd cited a recent study that found the United States trailing many other countries in terms of offering paid leave.
"This report validates what millions of working Americans already know--that the U.S. does not do nearly enough to ensure that our workers aren't forced to choose between their family and their job," Dodd says. "Now more than ever, millions of workers need to be able to take care of their young children and their aging parents. No worker should be penalized for caring for their family."
Dodd says the cost of the paid-leave program would be shared by employers, employees, and the federal government.
He says he has already received support from at least one Republican as a potential co-sponsor of the legislation, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.
In 2004, California became the first state to provide paid time off for workers to care for a child, spouse, parent, or domestic partner with a serious health condition, or to bond with a new child. The law allows most California workers to receive up to a 55 percent wage replacement benefit for 6 weeks in a 12-month period.