RealTime: Clinton Proposes Expanding Family Leave Act

Brady Swenson

Clinton, in the midst of her 'Women's Week' on the campaign trail, proposed an expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act while Dodd was on the hill testifying to extend the bill to injured veterans.

Senator Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire yesterday announced that, if elected, her administration would extend the Family Medical Leave mandate to businesses with 25 or more employees. The current incarnation of the law, written by fellow presidential hopeful Senator Chris Dodd, requires businesses with 50 or more employees to protect the jobs of workers who take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Clinton's plan would extend this protection to 13 million more employees and add a mandate for 7 paid sick days for employees.

Dodd, coincidentally, was on the hill yesterday testifying before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections in support of extending Family and Medical Leave Act benefits to wounded soldiers and their families. The Dodd campaign responded to Clinton's announcement by restating that he authored the original legislation, which included much of what Clinton's plan would offer and went even further by including mandated paid leave for up to 8 weeks before that provision was dropped.

Barack Obama's campaign, in a response memo, seemed skeptical that Clinton's promise would ever be realized. "As with so many issues facing the country today, promises to help children and families are just that — promises — unless we elect a leader who will move past the divisive, special-interest-driven politics that have crippled Washington for decades."

Detractors say Clinton's proposal would prove too burdensome on small businesses. “Extending the unpaid leave act to smaller employers will just create more problems, especially when the definition of a ‘serious health condition’ is so extremely broad,” said Randy Y. Johnson, vice president for labor issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, quoted in the New York Times.

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