Bill to Provide Paid FMLA Leave Introduced in Senate

June 29, 2007 ( - Legislation was introduced in the Senate last week to create a program that would provide workers with eight weeks of paid leave for reasons allowed under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The Family Leave Insurance Fund Act of 2007 would create a fund to finance benefits via employer and employee premiums, according to a statement on Senator Chris Dodd’s (D-Connecticut) Web site. Dodd and Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) introduced the bill in the Senate on June 21.

Under the program, employers will pay leave benefits to employees through their regular payroll,and will be reimbursed from the Family Leave Insurance Fund, the statement said. Employees must have paid premiums for 12 months and have worked for their employer for at least one year to be eligible for the benefit – which provides eight weeks of paid leave within a 12-month period.

The program would be mandatory for all businesses with more than 50 employees, but companies with equivalent or better benefits may choose to self-insure. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees and self-employed workers may opt in to the program, with a 50% discount on premium payments.

Employees and employers each would pay a premium equivalent to 0.2% of each employee’s earnings. Benefits paid by the program are tiered based on employee salaries, ranging from 100% of weekly earnings for employees earning up to $20,000 to 40% of weekly earnings for employees with salaries between $60,001 and $97,000.

The FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child; placement of adopted or foster child; care for a child, parent or spouse, who has a serious medical condition; or because the employee has a serious medical condition that makes it impossible to perform his or her job functions. A recent report from the Department of Labor on comments received after a recent Request for Information about the FMLA showed workers were positive about the time off available under the leave, but desired more paid time off (See FMLA Creates Concern over Business Management and Attendance ).