President Clinton Announces Actions To Offer Paid Leave To America's Working Families

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 9, 2000


Today, in his weekly radio address, the President will announce new steps to support America’s working families, many of whom increasingly feel the pressure of balancing work and family responsibilities and find it difficult to take family leave without pay. President Clinton will announce measures that enable states to help parents afford to take leave after the birth or adoption of a child and to enable federal employees to take paid leave to care for a seriously ill family member.

PARENTAL LEAVE NEEDS TO BE AFFORDABLE. Parents need more support to help balance their responsibilities at home and at work, and a recent poll released by the National Parenting Association found that low-income parents and parents of very young children are least likely to be able to take family leave due to the loss of income. In addition, a 1996 study by the Commission on Family and Medical Leave revealed that nearly 65 percent of new parents cite the most significant reason why they do not take advantage of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child is the expected loss of income.

ENCOURAGING STATES TO CREATE MORE OPTIONS FOR PARENTS. Today the President will announce new steps that the Department of Labor (DOL) is taking to allow parents to take paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. The Department is issuing a final regulation, which offers states the option to amend their unemployment compensation laws to provide paid leave for new parents. States implementing this option are encouraged, and will be offered assistance by the Department of Labor, to assess the effect of this change on the long-term fiscal stability of their unemployment compensation system. In May 1999, the President issued an Executive Memorandum directing the Secretary of Labor to offer states this opportunity, and since then, state interest has increased significantly. When the President issued the directive, four state legislatures had paid parental leave proposals pending – today, 15 states do, including Massachusetts, where such legislation is being considered this session. Today, the President will urge states to take advantage of this final regulation to provide new parents with greater access to parental leave to care for a new born or newly adopted child. A pre-publication copy of the final regulation can be found at the U.S. Department of Labor’s web site:

ALLOWING FEDERAL EMPLOYEES TO USE EARNED SICK LEAVE TO CARE FOR SERIOUSLY ILL FAMILY MEMBERS. Today, the President also will announce a final regulation, effective June 20th, allowing federal employees to use up to twelve weeks of earned sick leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. This benefit will broaden the options available for employees to meet their family responsibilities and is another example of the federal government leading the nation in offering greater support for America’s working families.

BUILDING ON A STRONG RECORD OF SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES. Throughout his Administration, President Clinton has fought to provide families with the tools they need to meet their responsibilities both at home and at work. In 1993, the President signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, providing workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave, which has benefited more than 20 million Americans. Today, the President will continue to set forth an agenda for working families and call on Congress to enact his proposals to expand FMLA to cover more workers and allow leave for more parental activities, such as parent-teacher conferences and routine doctor’s appointments. The President's FY 2001 budget will give American families the tools they need to meet their responsibilities at home and at work -- by doubling funding for after-school programs, investing an additional $1 billion in Head Start, providing expanded tax credits and more subsidies for child care, and tripling the proposed tax credit for long-term care costs.

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