Today in labor history: The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law, signed by President Bill Clinton on February 5, 1993, requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected, unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. These include personal or family illness, family military leave, pregnancy, adoption, or the foster care placement of a child. The FMLA is administered by the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor. The bill was a major part of Clinton’s first-term agenda.

The FMLA was intended “to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families.” The Act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period. To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have been at the business at least 12 months, and worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. The FMLA covers both public- and private-sector employees, but certain categories of employees are excluded, including elected officials and their personal staff members.

The accelerated route – in this case “from bill to Bill” – illustrates the difference it makes who is elected to office, and from what political party. The bill was introduced in the House as H.R. 1 by William D. Ford, D-Mich., on January 5, 1993, before Bill Clinton took office. It went into consideration by the House Education and Labor, and Post Office and Civil Service Committees. It passed the House on February 3 by a vote of 265-163, and passed the Senate the next day 71-27 with an amendment that the House agreed to the same day. The following day, February 5, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed it into law. The law took effect six months later, on August 5, 1993.

After 12 years of the GOP installed in the White House (Reagan, then Bush I), this must-pass legislation was a potent symbol of liberal “family values.”

Adapted from Wikipedia.




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