I recently wrote about several leave of absence bills pending in the Texas Legislature. On March 25, Congressional Democrats introduced a bill to provide twelve weeks of paid federal family & medical leave –the Family Leave Insurance Act of 2009 (HR 1723).
Unlike the FMLA which only applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius, the Family Leave Insurance Act of 2009 would apply to employers with 2 or more employees. Employees eligible for the new benefit include employees who earned wages (i.e., paid into the fund) with a covered employer for a minimum of 6 months prior to seeking benefits; and has been employed by the employer with respect to whom paid leave is requested for at least 625 hours of service during the previous 6 months.
Benefits are available to eligible employees who take the leave for the same reasons as FMLA (i.e., the birth or placement of a son or daughter; to care for a serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member, including a family service member; or due to a qualifying exigency arising from a close family member who is on or been called up to active military duty).
The employee’s benefit amount is dependent on the employee’s annual income and is calculated on a sliding scale.
- Up to $20,000 is paid 100 percent of that employee’s daily earnings;
- More than $20,000 but less $30,000 is paid the greater of 75 percent of that employee’s daily earnings; or 100 percent of the daily earnings of an employee with an annual income of $20,000;
- More than $30,000 and not more than $60,000 is paid the greater of 55 percent of that employee’s daily earnings; or 75 percent of the daily earnings of an employee with an annual income of $30,000;
- More than $60,000 and not more than $97,000, is paid the greater of 40 percent of that employee’s daily earnings; or 55 percent of the daily earnings of an employee with an annual income of $60,000; and
- More than $97,000, an amount equal to 40 percent of the daily earnings of an employee with an annual income of $97,000.
The benefits would be paid from a federal trust fund. The trust fund would be funded from both employer and employee contributions. Employers and employees would both contribute .2 percent of each employee’s wages to the fund beginning on January 1, 2011. Small employers (under 20 employees) would pay a .1 percent premium. The law, if passed, would be administered like state unemployment benefit programs.
Finally, the bill provides anti-retaliation provisions; creates a new civil cause of action against employers that violate the anti-retaliation provisions; as well as potential administrative fines and penalties.