Rep. Sewell Introduces Bipartisan Family Medical Leave Bill
Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, August 2, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) joined Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) in announcing the introduction of the Strong Families Act (H.R. 3595), a bill to encourage employers to provide paid family medical leave. The Strong Families Act creates a tax credit for employers who voluntarily offer at least four weeks of paid leave. Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Senator Angus King (I-ME) introduced a companion bill (S. 1716) Tuesday in the Senate.
“I’m a strong believer that our workforce needs to be family friendly and that our tax policies should incentivize the behavior we want to see,” said Rep. Sewell. “The Strong Families Act builds on these principles by encouraging employers to provide paid leave for parents to care for sick children, for new mothers who need time off, and for children to care for sick parents. Looking out for America’s working families should be a bipartisan priority, and I’m proud to have worked with Members of Congress from both parties to introduce today’s bill. By using the tax code to incentivize the kind of behavior we would like to see from American employers, we can update workforce practices for how families live and work in the 21st century.”
“Strong families make strong communities,” said Rep. Kelly. “Strong communities build a stronger country. I’m happy and proud to sponsor the Strong Families Act and incentivize the private sector to enact workplace policies that will make a difference for families.”
“Today we are introducing a new version of paid leave legislation I’ve worked on for years, and I’m proud say we are doing it with bipartisan and bicameral support,” said Sen. Fischer. “For too many families, balancing responsibilities at home and in the workplace is a source of stress. I believe this legislation will positively impact people’s lives and help make paid leave available to more Americans.”
“Updating our country’s family leave policies will not only help strengthen families, but will also strengthen our economy,” said Sen. King. “By encouraging family-friendly policies at work, this bipartisan legislation will provide working parents and caregivers in Maine and across the country with more flexibility to take care of their children and aging parents while also pursuing their careers. The Strong Families Act will support this 21st century work environment and make our communities and our economy more resilient.”
Under current law, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide up to 12-weeks of job-protected unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. To qualify for FMLA, a worker must be employed by a business for at least 12 months. The United States is the only developed nation in the world with no guaranteed paid leave of any kind.
The Strong Families Act would provide employers a 25 percent nonrefundable tax credit for each hour of paid leave offered to qualified employees. Consistent with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employers would not be required to offer paid leave to employees who have been on the job for less than a year. The Strong Families Act would also allow part-time employees to be eligible for a pro-rata portion of paid leave.
Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) is serving her fourth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional district. She sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was recently appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Sewell is a Chief Deputy Whip and serves on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee of the Democratic Caucus. She is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and serves as Vice Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, and Vice Chair of Outreach for the New Democrat Coalition.