A Win for Military Families and the "Valuing Families" Agenda

Nov 03, 2009

By Lexer Quamie

President Obama on October 28 signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (H.R. 2647), which includes expanded care-giving time for military families.

The bill's passage reflects a win for the Valuing Families Agenda.  The Agenda is spearheaded by the Family Values at Work Consortium, a network of fourteen state coalitions that work on policies such as paid sick days and affordable family leave along with the National Partnership for Women and Families.  The bill signing moves toward accomplishing one of the Agenda's s goals-ensuring job-protected and affordable family and medical leave for all workers.  Other priorities include guaranteeing a minimum number of paid sick days for all employees and ensuring all employees have the right to greater control over their work schedules so they are not penalized for care-giving responsibilities.

Specifically, the new legislation will allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave in a 12-month period for any qualifying need arising out of the active duty or call to active duty status of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent.  In addition, primary caregivers of military members are permitted to take up to 26 weeks of job-protected leave in a 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.  The law will extend the time in which a family member can take such leave, and expand the scope of those who would be covered by exigency leave provisions.

The Valuing Families Agenda aspires for all workers to have job-protected family and medical leave, and the bill's passage is an incremental step toward that end.  CLASP has signed on to the Valuing Families Agenda, along with more than 50 advocacy organizations representing women, labor, business, faith groups, children, elderly, and caregiver groups. 

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