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Bill would amend FMLA to allow parents time off to mourn the death of a child

July 26th, 2011  |  Deborah Hammonds

Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act to give parents grieving the death of their child as many as 12 weeks of job-protected leave. Currently, the FMLA allows parents extended, unpaid time off to care for newborn babies, adopted children and family members with serious health conditions.

The Parental Bereavement Act of 2011 (S. 1358) would add grieving over the death of a child to the list of activities for which an individual may take leave under the FMLA. The leave cannot be taken intermittently or on reduced schedule unless both the employer and employee agree, and the employee is required to give notice of the need for the leave when practicable.

Sponsored by Montana Senator Jon Tester, the Parental Bereavement Act would ensure that the death of a child is treated like other life-altering events, allowing parents time to grieve.  

“Allowing time off to mourn the death of a child should have happened a long-time ago because it’s simply the right thing to do for any parent,” said Sen. Tester.  “When the unthinkable happens to parents, the last thing they should be worrying about is whether they’ll lose their jobs as they deal with life-changing loss.  We owe this improvement to all parents, and I’m proud to push it in the Senate.”

The Act would not affect businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.