NASW supports the Farley-Kluger Initiative to amend the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). As it currently stands, FMLA requires that employers provide eligible employees with up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave each year for the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child, for the care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition, for a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essentials tasks of his or her job, and for any qualifying emergency that arises out of the fact that an immediate family member is a covered military member on covered active duty. Furthermore, employers must provide up to twenty-six weeks of unpaid leave each year for employees who are the primary caregivers for injured service members. The Farley-Kluger Initiative aims to extend the coverage and existing benefits of FMLA to include employees that have experienced the death of a child.
Under FMLA, employees are eligible to cite mental illness or depression as a reason to take an extended leave of absence after experiencing the death of a child; however, this presents a problem for employees who are not experiencing depression or living with a mental illness, but rather experiencing bereavement after the death of a child. Bereavement is the objective situation of a person who has experienced the loss of a significant person in their lives. Most employers only provide two to three days of leave for bereavement, and, in some cases, these days are deducted from the employees’ vacation or sick leave. Other employers have no policies to handle bereavement, and employees can be fired for taking an extended amount of time off or for failing to perform the essential tasks of the job because they are in a state of grief. The Farley-Kluger Initiative seeks to make bereavement a protected reason to qualify for the benefits set forth by FMLA.
Learn more about NASW’s work on bereavement and end-of-life issues including the Standards for Social Work Practice in End of Life and Palliative Care, and learn about the Farley-Kluger Initiative and sign the petition to Congress by visiting www.farleykluger.com.