On March 16th, a bipartisan group of Representatives, which included Paul Gosar, Don Beyer, Martha McSally, Brad Schneider, Tom Suozzi and Barbara Comstock, introduced the Parental Bereavement Act of 2017, also known as the Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act. See H.R. 1560. This Act would add the “death of a child” as a covered life event under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and provide parents who are grieving the loss of a child with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to heal from the initial trauma of losing a child and then return to work.
Currently, the FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family events, such as the birth of a child, but not for the traumatic event of losing a child. Adding the death of a child as a covered event would give parents the security they need in knowing that they can take time to grieve and their job will be protected.
Similar bills have been introduced in Congress, but so far, none have been passed. However, as Congressman Gosar pointed out, “Expanding the FMLA to cover parents coping with the devastation of losing a child is beyond reasonable and should have been included when the legislation was originally passed.”