The US Department of Labor‘s Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (known as FMLA) states that it entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are currently entitled to
- Twelve work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
- the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
- the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
- to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
- a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job
But when a family member dies, there are almost no benefits extended to employees. After Clara died, David was fortunate to be able to take 4 days off of work. He hadn’t been with the company for long, so he had no personal time to take, but the company generously paid him anyway and gave him a negative balance of personal time to work off over the following year.
If he had still been working for any of the companies he worked for previously, he would not have been given any paid time off, and most likely no time off at all, even unpaid, without risk of losing his job. We are lucky for those four days, but it should have been much longer. Merely four days after the death of our baby, David was in no condition to go back to work.
A bereaved parent should not have to worry about the stress of an employer who does not want to allow time off, or having to go back to performing well at work in order to make ends meet for their family, while dealing with the grief and sadness of losing their child.
Kelly Farley of Grieving Dads is taking action to correct this issue. He has created the Parental Bereavement Act (Farley-Kluger Initiative). It is a petition to modify the existing Family Medical Leave Act. The petition’s objective is to support the extension of coverage and existing benefits allowed by FMLA to employees that have experienced the death of a child.
If you would like to join David and I in supporting this modification of the FMLA, please sign the petition.