Dem looks to extend medical leave law to small companies

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday proposed the extension of a landmark worker rights bill to a smaller range of companies, which would allow more workers to unpaid leave from work without fear of losing their job.

Maloney proposed the Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act, H.R. 3999. The bill amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — that law entitles people to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and applies to companies with 50 or more employees.

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Maloney's bill would extend that benefit to anyone working at a company with 25 or more employees.

"Unfortunately, nearly 40 percent of workers are not covered by that law because they work in businesses with fewer than 50 employees," she said. "The Enhancement Act will expand the FMLA's protections to businesses with 25 or more employees, giving millions more people the peace of mind that if they need to take sick leave they won't lose their job."

Maloney's bill also creates a new entitlement that would give working parents the right to leave work for reasons related to "parental involvement and family wellness."

That would include activities like parent-teacher conferences at school, or other school or community activities that involve a worker's son or daughter. It would also include routine medical care and applies to both government and private-sector workers.

The bill limits this new entitlement to no more than 4 hours a month and no more than 24 hours during any 12-month period. It gives employers the right to require workers to deduct paid vacation or sick time whenever they take time off for family reasons.