Independent Women’s Voice, which fights to enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities, is proud to support the FAIR Leave Act, introduced by Senator Joni Ernst. If enacted, the FAIR Leave Act would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to ensure that all married couples taking FMLA are treated fairly.
Signed into law in 1993, the FMLA guarantees eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave each year for reasons such as personal illness, family illness, or the birth/adoption of a child. FMLA applies to private employers with 50 or more employees and also guarantees job security by requiring employers to hold an individual’s job until returning from leave.
In its current form, the FMLA penalizes married couples who work for the same employer. FMLA- eligible spouses who work for the same employer are limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period if they request the time off for any of the following reasons: the birth/adoption/fostering of a new child, caring for a sick parent with a serious health condition, or caring for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.
This is particularly unfair to married women serving in the military, nearly half of whom are in dual-military marriages. Military men and women already make many sacrifices for our country. They shouldn’t have to sacrifice time off from work to take care of a loved one simply because they work for the same employer as their spouse.
The FAIR Leave Act would address this disparity by repealing these unfair restrictions in the FMLA. We thank Senator Ernst for her leadership on this important issue and urge all Members of Congress to work toward the swift passage of the FAIR Leave Act.
Hadley Heath Manning
Director of Policy
Independent Women’s Voice