The proposal would amend the FMLA to include death of a child as a qualifying event, with intermittent and reduced schedules permitted only by agreement.
On February 7, Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL), along with five cosponsors, introduced the Parental Bereavement Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation that would help families grieving the loss of a child take time off work. The bill was introduced in tandem with the 26th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, signed into law on February 5, 1993.
Alternatively called the "Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act," H.R. 983 would add "death of a child" as a life event that would qualify for unpaid leave under the FMLA, giving a grieving parent up to 12 weeks to mourn a child’s loss before returning to work.
The FMLA currently mandates up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family events, including the birth of a child, during which an employer cannot terminate an employee for taking leave who qualifies for such leave.
Intermittent and reduced schedule. Notably, the proposed legislation provides that leave due to the death of a child may not be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule unless the employee and the employer "agree otherwise."
The proposal is endorsed by The Farley-Kluger Initiative, a movement which began in 2011 to amend the FMLA to include parental bereavement. Similar legislation was introduced in the last three Congresses but never progressed beyond committee.
"The death of a child is a loss like no other, yet our current laws leave no time for parents to grieve and begin the recovery process," Representative Schneider said in a statement. "I am proud to introduce this legislation making commonsense improvements to the Family and Medical Leave Act so employees can take the unpaid time off they need to care for their families and heal following such a tragic loss. I am particularly inspired by the families in whose memory this bill is named, who have turned the pain of the loss of a child into advocacy on behalf of other families facing the same unimaginable tragedy."