House Passes Leave Time for Military Families

An amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill sponsored by Reps. Jason Altmire (PA-04) and Tom Udall (NM-03), which would ease the burden on military families struggling to balance new responsibilities brought on by deployments, has been agreed to. The amendment allows spouses, parents, or children of military personnel who are currently serving or are called to active duty to use their Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits for issues arising from deployment.

Rep. Altmire:
“The wife of a recently deployed military service member could use the Family Medical Leave Act to arrange for child care. The husband of a service member could use the Family Medical Leave Act to attend predeployment briefings and family support sessions. The parents of a deployed service member could take Family Medical Leave Act time to see their brave child off or welcome them back home.”

Chairman George Miller of the Education and Labor Committee applauded the measure:

Chairman Miller Praises House of Representatives for Voting to Provide Leave Time for Military Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) praised the U.S. House of Representatives for voting today to approve legislation to help workers meet their work and family responsibilities when a loved one is deployed to a combat zone.

“We owe it to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to do everything we can to ensure that their families are taken care of while they are risking their lives for our country,” said Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “This legislation would make a big difference in the lives of families who are struggling to balance the demands of work and home life while a parent or other loved one is deployed.”

The legislation, offered by U.S. Reps. Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Tom Udall (D-NM) as an amendment to a larger defense bill, would allow workers to use Family and Medical Leave to deal with issues that arise as a result of the deployment of a spouse, parent, or child to a combat zone like Iraq or Afghanistan. Under current law, workers are only permitted to use that time for family illnesses or births.

“These deployments and extended tours of duty are not easy on families,” said Miller. “A two-parent household can suddenly become a single parent household. One parent is left alone to deal with running errands, caring for kids, and managing the household. In times like these, military families urgently need all the support we can give them.”

The Family and Medical Leave Act, which became law in 1993, requires employers to grant up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees during any 12-month period in order to care for a sick relative or a new child or to recover from illness. The law does not require employers to provide paid leave to employees, though employers may provide that benefit voluntarily.

To see Altmire's statement on the legislation, click here.

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