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Should FMLA be expanded to help parents after miscarriage or stillbirth?

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2023 | Employment Law |

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides employees with time off to take care of a family member or a health issue while preserving their job. It is unpaid time off and only applies to eligible employers who have 50 or more employees or government agencies.

Currently, the FMLA does not provide coverage to take time off for the loss of a child due to miscarriage or stillbirth. But Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and several other senators are pushing a bill that would amend the FMLA to include this situation.

The proposal from Cotton

The proposed legislation, called the HEALING Mothers and Father Act would change the FMLA to include time off due to the loss of an unborn child. It would give the full 12 weeks of time under the FMLA to individuals who lose a child due to stillbirth or miscarriage. It would not change the requirements to be eligible or for eligible employers. It also would not be allowable in cases of a planned abortion.

The impact of the loss of an unborn child

Many people are on board with this amendment because the loss of an unborn child can cause serious psychological distress to parents. Studies show that the loss can also impact future pregnancies, making this more high-stress than is typical. Giving parents time to grieve the loss is just as important as it would be if they lost a living child.

Amending the FMLA to allow employees time off for the loss of an unborn child is a movement currently happening in Washington under the direction of Senator Cotton. If passed, it would allow parents to take up to 12 weeks off for a miscarriage or stillbirth.

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