Reps. Gosar, Beyer, McSally, Schneider, Suozzi, Comstock Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Give Parents Time Off to Mourn Loss of a Child

For Immediate Release

Date: March 16, 2017

Contact: Steven D. Smith

Steven.Smith@mail.house.gov

(Pictured from left to right: Rep. Martha McSally, Rep. Paul Gosar, Barry Kluger,
Rep. Don Beyer and Rep. Brad Schneider)

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today a bipartisan group of Representatives including Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Don Beyer (VA-08), Martha McSally (AZ-02), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Tom Suozzi (NY-03) and Barbra Comstock (VA-10) introduced the Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act. This legislation would add “death of a child” as a life event that would qualify for unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allowing a grieving parent up to 12 weeks to deal with the trauma and then return to work.

“As a father of three amazing children myself, I know I can speak for everyone here today that our goal is to protect the rights of grieving parents who face the unthinkable pain of losing a child,” said Congressman Gosar. “Expanding the FMLA to cover parents coping with the devastation of losing a child is beyond reasonable and should have been included when the legislation was originally passed.”

“This commonsense, bipartisan bill is about what we are supposed to be doing in Congress—identifying problems and solving them together in a way that makes sense to help the people that we represent,” said Congresswoman McSally. “Giving grieving parents the option for time off from work equal to that for parents who have given birth and adopted simply makes sense to all of us who are in support of this bill.”

“If our children represent our immortality, their death is absolutely our death,” said Congressman Beyer. “To expand the FMLA to include parental bereavement is the most compassionate action we can take to do something, no matter how small, to help. This legislation is a good start to make a positive change and I’m proud to support it.”

“The death of a child is a loss like no other, leaving a hole in the heart that will never be closed but rather around which life must be slowly rebuilt,” said Congressman Schneider. “Yet current law leaves no time for employees to grieve and begin the recovery process. I am proud to help introduce this legislation to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act to permit employees to take the unpaid time off they need to care for their families and heal following such a tragic loss.”

The bill is also supported by The Farley-Kluger Initiative—a movement which began in 2011 to amend FMLA to include parental bereavement as well as 20 national organizations. “On behalf of grieving parents, and in memory of Noah and Katie Farley and Erica Kluger, we thank the sponsors of this bill for their compassion and common sense approach to American workers who suffer the loss of a child,” said Kelly Farley and Barry Kluger, authors of the Farley-Kluger Initiative. “This legislation will enable those who suffer this tragedy to take the time necessary to deal with this loss and be productive colleagues and employees, not to mention stronger family members.”

Background:

The full bill text of the Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act can be found HERE.

Currently, the FMLA mandates up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family events, including the birth of a child. During that 12 week period, an employer cannot terminate an employee who qualifies for such leave. This bill does not mandate any costs to employers or the government.