House Hearing Examines FMLA Expansion

February 14, 2020

As both parties continue to mull varying approaches to a federal paid leave initiative, a House Education and Labor Committee hearing this week focused on continuing pressure to expand the existing coverage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to more situations.

Democrats repeated proposals to expand the FMLA and floated stand-alone leave bills requiring leave for a number of sympathetic causes, including organ donation and school activities.

Fulfilling the promise:  Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Alma Adams (D-NC) said, “we will discuss how we can fulfill the promise of the FMLA by updating federal law to expand who is eligible for leave, who workers can take leave for, and the eligible reasons why workers take leave.”

More burdens?  Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) expressed concern about expanding the FMLA categories for covered leave “distorting this carefully balanced law.”  She probed the potential compliance and regulatory burdens that expanding FMLA would place on employers.

Outlook:  As with several other Democratic bills, those expanding FMLA leave protections are unlikely to go beyond House passage—if that—in the current Congress.  That could change this November, depending on the election outcomes.