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New York US Senator proposes paid FMLA leave

A United States senator from New York has introduced a bill to modify how family and medical leave is handled on a national level. The Family and Medical Leave Act has provided eligible workers with job protection for qualifying family and medical reasons when taking leave from work to address the issues.

Many New York residents have found the protections of the FMLA vital when a family medical issue has arisen. The FMLA does not only generally apply when a new parent seeks maternity or paternity leave, but when personal serious health issues arise—or those of an immediate family member come into play.

However, only 12 percent of the working population has access to some level of income while on medical leave. The FMLA provides important job protections when a worker takes leave, but does not require that the worker be paid. The new proposal introduced in the Senate last week seeks to provide not only job protection, but also a method to pay workers who are approved for family or medical leave.

The measure would create a new program to be administered by the Social Security Administration, funded through payroll taxes similar to the federal disability insurance and retirement programs. Workers on family and medical leave would receive two-thirds of their monthly salary while on leave under the bill. The new measure would keep job protections under federal law for workers on medical leave.

Besides creating a program of paid medical leave, the measure seeks to expand the number of workers who may be eligible for job-protected leave. The FMLA generally applies to companies with 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius of the worksite, according to the United States Department of Labor.

The new measure seeks to create a new program of paid leave, regardless of the size of the company. In fact, paid family and medical leave would be available for self-employed individuals, according to an article in the Staten Island Advance.

A similar bill is being sponsored in the House.

Source: Staten Island Advance, “Paid family and medical leave could be law of land,” Judy L. Randall,” Dec. 12, 2013

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