Parental Bereavement Leave (The Farley-Kluger Initiative to Amend the FMLA)

83,543 Letters Sent So Far

I, the undersigned, support the Parental Bereavement Leave Act as proposed in both the Senate and House that supports extension of coverage and existing benefits allowed by FMLA to employees that have experienced the death of a child.

The Farley-Kluger Initiative began in January, 2011 as a grass-roots advocacy effort to petition change. Inspired by these efforts, Senator Jon Tester (MT) has introduced S. 226 - The Parental Bereavement Act of 2013 in the U.S. Senate and Congressman Steve Israel (NY) has introduced H.R. 515 - The Parental Bereavement Act of 2013 (aka Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act) in the U.S. House of Representatives in the new 113th Congress. Support needs to be given to this issue in both the House and the Senate.

The existing FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

* for the birth and care of a newborn child
* for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
* to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition;
* to take medical leave because of a serious health condition; or
* to care for an injured service member in the family

Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, 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.

It is my strong opinion that the death of a child is one of the worst experiences that anyone can endure. I find it unacceptable that the death of a child is not included as a protected reason to qualify for the benefits that are set forth in the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993.

As your constituent, I encourage you to give this issue serious consideration and co-sponsor the appropriate bill to make the necessary modification to the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993. Since the existing FMLA defines a child as anyone under the age of 18, verbiage should be added to allow bereaved parents, regardless of age of the child, to qualify for these benefits.

I support Kelly Farley, Founder of the Grieving Dads Project (www.GrievingDads.com) and Barry Kluger, Author and grieving father, in their efforts to make these necessary changes and allow the time needed to begin the healing process.

The Farley-Kluger Initiative is proud to have the support of such organizations as the Polly Klaas Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, American Counseling Association, the Elisabeth-Kubler Ross Foundation, Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA), First Candle, The Grief Recovery Institute Educational Foundation, Parents of Murdered Children (POMC), The MISS Foundation, Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc., The JED Foundation, Blue Star Families, Gold Star Mothers and Fathers, The Sarah Grace Foundation for Children with Cancer, The Children's Bereavement Center of Miami, National Students of AMF, American Academy of Grief Counseling, National Alliance for Grieving Children, Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance and The American Institute for Health Care Professionals, to name a few.

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As a mother of a stillborn at 37 weeks gestation, I not only had to physically heal, but heal emotionally as well. My husband, who is my main support, had to return back to work 5 days after my labor and birth of our dead son. He did not have time to process what had just happened to our family, or grieve before his boss was breathing down his back to come back to work. "Since you don't have a new baby to take care of at home, when can you come back? We really need you at the warehouse." What my husband needed was to grieve. We need legislation to promote bereavement periods for unborn children in families. We set aside bereavement periods when other family members die, why not the unborn?
Grief is real and can cause serious mental and physical anguish. This pain and illness is real.
Though my employer was very supportive after losing our daughter, many are not, and this addition will be extremely valuable to those that lose a child.
The deaths of my two daughters was the most debilitating experience I have ever had. I was unemployed at the time, but without protections of an amended FMLA act, I very likely could have lost employment -- I was unable to function normally until at least 8 weeks following the funeral.
I am very grateful my employer gave me the necessary time to grieve the loss of my two daughters and would hope that all employers afford grieving parents the same opportunity.