Designed to build upon FMLA, four Democratic Reps. Pete Stark (Calif.), George Miller (Calif.), Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) and Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.) last week introduced the Family Leave Insurance Act of 2009, which would provide 12 weeks of paid benefits to workers who need to take time off to care for an ill family member, a new child, or because of their own illness.

"Millions of American workers are all too often put in the position of choosing between getting paid and dealing with an illness or welcoming a new child to the family. Americans shouldn´t have to make that choice," Miller said. "Family-friendly policies like guaranteed paid leave not only help parents balance work and family, but also improve employers´ bottom lines. When workers can take advantage of these family-friendly policies, their employers benefit from increased recruitment and retention rates, decreased absenteeism and improved productivity."

Maloney added: "There couldn´t be a worse time than during an economic downturn to ask parents to choose between a paycheck and their new child or sick family member. Tough times call for strong supports for working families, like paid family and medical leave."

The legislation will:
* Provide all workers with 12 weeks of paid leave over a 12-month period to care for a new child, provide for an ill family member, treat their own illness, care for a wounded veteran, or deal with the deployment of a family member.
* Provide these benefits through a new trust fund that is financed equally by employers and employees, who will each contribute 0.2% of the employee´s pay (for the average worker, less than $7 a month, sponsors estimate).
* Progressively tier the benefits so that a low-wage worker (earning less than $30,000) will receive full or near full salary replacement, middle income workers ($30,000- $60,000) receive 55% wage replacement, and higher earners (over $60,000) receive 40-45%, with the benefit capped at approximately $800 per week.
* Administer the program through the Department of Labor which will contract with states to administer the program.
* Allow states and businesses with equivalent or better benefits to opt-out of the program.

Click here to view a complete summary of the bill and bill text, then comment and let me know your thoughts on the legislation -- Bravo! or Boo!

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