Family Leave Policy: Where Candidates Stand

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.: Biden was a strong supporter of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Knowing there are many more workers who cannot afford unpaid leave, he is co-sponsoring the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with 15 or more workers to provide seven paid sick days to care for their own or their families' medical needs.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.: Clinton has supported the legislation that would ensure that workers can take paid time off when they are sick. She co-sponsored legislation to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide parents with time off from work to go to the doctors' office with their child. This bill also provides paid family and medical leave to qualifying parents time off to attend teachers' conferences for their children. (She points out on her Web site that her husband signed the FLMA into law in 1993.) She is also a co-sponsor of the Healthy Families Act, which would provide workers with seven paid days off of sick leave, giving parents time off to go to the doctor with their children or aging parents. Also, she has joined Chris Dodd and a bipartisan group of senators to introduce an amendment to the Senate-approved CHIP bill to extend Family and Medical Leave Act to family members of wounded soldiers to six months. Clinton also reintroduced the Choices in Child Care Act (S.820) — legislation would give qualified families greater flexibility in providing safe, quality care for their infants. The bill would help parents balance work and family, help meet the critical shortage of infant child care, provide cost savings to state child care programs, support quality care for the critical first years of a child's development, and value parenting as a form of work.

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Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.: Dodd spent seven years working to enact the Family and Medical Leave Act. He recently introduced the Family Leave Insurance Act that would provide eight weeks of paid benefits to people who take time off from work for reasons allowed under FMLA. Employees and employers would contribute equally to the fund, which would provide partial pay for approved leave. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, a Democrat: Edwards will expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to let parents take time off from work when they need it. He supports more resources for child care and after-school programs to give children a safe place to learn while their parents are at work. His health-care plan will also strengthen Medicaid's support for long-term care and emphasize home- and community-based care to allow caregivers to keep their parents nearby. He has also proposed universal early childhood and expanding the child care tax credit.

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