In the 20 years since the FMLA was enacted, there have been few amendments to the law and even fewer that made me hopeful. Yet on February 5, 2014 a bill proposed by Representative Carolyn Maloney did just that.
Bill (H.R. 3999) seeks to amend the FMLA as follows:
- Lower the minimum employee count for FMLA-covered employers from 50 to 25; and
- Provide 24 hours of additional unpaid leave for “parental involvement and family wellness” for eligible employees to:
- Participate in or attend school and community activities that are also attended by the employees’ children or grandchildren such as scout meetings or athletic events;
- Meet routine family medical care needs, including medical and dental appointments; and
- Attend to the care needs of elderly individuals who are related to the employees including visits to nursing homes.
A few states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island have Small necessity or school attendance leaves that allow a parent to be more involved in their children’s lives. I’m incredibly fond of the idea and thrilled that there is even the slightest possibility that this gift could be granted to working parents across the nation.
I can’t help but think of how happy the little leaguer will be when mom or dad has the opportunity to attend a game for the first time, or how excited the second grader will be because dad can finally chaperone a field trip.
Currently Republicans do not favor this bill, but I surely hope it becomes a bi-partisan priority.
With all of those happy thoughts said, my cynicism gets the best of me. Too many years experiencing how talented employees have become at abusing the FMLA. I can’t help but wonder how many moms will choose 2 hours at the mall instead of the school play. How many dads might decide skipping out of work early for some alone time is better than the parent teacher conference. Mom can do that herself can’t she?
In this case, I will resign myself and my FMLA grudges in the hopes that children and parents have the chance to take advantage of such a great opportunity. In this day in age our children need parental support more than ever. Our nations schools need parental support more than ever. Hard working, exhausted parents need a day at a T-ball game more than ever.
I truly hope this bill becomes law and I sincerely hope that parents take advantage of it and that our children reap the benefits.