Senators introduce bill to protect grieving parents from job loss

Parental Bereavement Act amends Family Medical Leave Act to allow time off for death of a child

(U.S. Senate) – Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) are introducing legislation to protect grieving parents from losing their jobs in the event of their child’s death.

The Parental Bereavement Act would amend the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to give parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid, but job-protected, time off of work to cope with the death of a child.

FMLA currently allows parents to take extended leave for the birth of a child, adoption, and to care for family members with serious health conditions. The Senators’ bill ensures that death of a child is treated like these other life-altering events.

“The scariest thought for any parent is having to bury their child, and they shouldn’t face losing their livelihood on top of that,” Tester said. “Updating the law to give parents time to grieve is long overdue, and we owe it to them to pass this bill.”

“When faced with an unimaginable tragedy like the loss of a child, workers shouldn’t have to worry about losing their job too,” said Durbin. “I think our colleagues will agree that adding this important provision is the right thing to do.”

“No parent should ever have to face the fear of losing their job after the tragedy of losing a child,” said Baldwin. “This commonsense legislation will not heal all wounds, but will help provide parents some peace of mind as they recover from their loss.”

“No parent dealing with the loss of their child should have to worry about losing their job, too,” said Coons. “This legislation is about common decency, and providing American workers with the basic right to care for, and when necessary, grieve for their loved ones.”

“To compound the grief of losing a child with fear of losing one’s job is unconscionable,” Markey said. “We need to ensure that parents have the time and support needed to grieve the death of a child, and this legislation is one important way to extend compassion in a parent’s time of need.”

The Senators’ bill is supported by The American Counseling Association, the American Sustainable Business Council and the Farley-Kluger Initiative, a movement to amend FMLA to include parental bereavement.

“On behalf of grieving parents, we thank the Senators 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.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 3,000 American children between the ages of one and 14 die suddenly each year from accidents.

The Parental Bereavement Act is also sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D -N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D- Mass.), and is available online HERE.