Family leave bill aims to end limits on married couples in same workplace

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SALT LAKE CITY — Several lawmakers, including Sen. Mike Lee, want to remove restrictions on the amount of leave married couples working at the same company may take for the birth of a child or caring for a sick parent.

The bipartisan group of senators say the issue has become increasingly evident in the modern workforce.

“Marriage is the foundation of civil society and the federal government should not be in the business of punishing marriage,” Lee, R-Utah, said.

While the Family Medical Leave Act provides unpaid, job-protected leave for some family and medical reasons, it limits the amount of time that married couples in the same workplace may take off.

The bill allows spouses working for the same employer to each take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for the birth of a child, the placement and adoption of a child or care of a parent with a serious health condition. It would also allow spouses to each take 26 weeks to care for a service member with a serious injury or illness.

The federal government should not be in the business of punishing marriage.

–Sen. Mike Lee

“It’s 2019, and your relationship status shouldn’t dictate the time you have to care for a new kid or a sick family member without missing a paycheck,” said Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said it’s past time to modernize family and medical leave policies to serve the needs of parents and families in today’s world.

“As a mom, I understand how important it is for new parents to spend time with their children in their first few weeks together, which is why I’ve helped champion paid parental leave efforts in the Senate,” she said.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said the proposed Fair Access for Individuals to Receive Leave Act fixes an error in current law that punishes married couples who work for the same company.

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.


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