Suozzi Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Family and Medical Leave Act to Cover Loss of a Child

Commonsense and compassionate improvement to FMLA introduced on 26th anniversary of law.

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Congressman Tom Suozzi.

Photo by: Chris Boyle

Long Island, NY - February 12, 2019 - Last week, Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), along with Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Don Beyer (D-VA), Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Paul Cook (R-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation to help families grieving the loss of a child take time off work.
H.R. 983, the “Parental Bereavement Act of 2019” or the “Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act” would add “death of a child” as a life event that would qualify for unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allowing a grieving parent up to 12 weeks to mourn the loss of a child and then return to work. The FMLA currently mandates up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family events, including the birth of a child, during which an employer cannot terminate an employee who qualifies for such leave.
The legislation was introduced last week marking the 26th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was signed into law on February 5, 1993.
“As an elected official, I have encountered people during all manner of triumph and tragedy. I am convinced that there is no greater tragedy than a parent losing a child. No parent should be denied the right or opportunity to grieve for their child. Many parents who experience this sort of tragedy may never recover,” said Rep. Tom Suozzi. “It is time to pass this common-sense legislation, which will allow families the time off from work they need to recover following a devastating loss. I am especially passionate about this bill, because it is named after Sarah Grace Weippert, the child of my constituents, who, since losing their daughter to cancer, have worked tirelessly to ensure that other parents are able to properly cope with the same tragedy.”
“My daughter Sarah died of leukemia at the age of 12. She was buried on a Wednesday and I returned to work on Monday; no parent should be denied the right or opportunity to grieve for their child. Grieving is a lifelong process and I will never recover from the loss of my angel Sarah. I am thankful that this legislation has been re-introduced in the 116th Congress and I am so very hopeful that 2019 will be the year that it will pass,” said Matthew Weippert of Hicksville, father of Sarah Grace Weippert, one of the bill’s namesakes.
The legislation is endorsed by The Farley-Kluger Initiative—a movement which began in 2011 to amend FMLA to include parental bereavement.
In addition, the bill is supported by national organizations including:
  • Children’s Bereavement Center
  • Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation
  • First Candle
  • JED Foundation
  • MISS Foundation
  • National Military Families Association
  • Polly Klaas Foundation
  • Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance
  • Share Pregnancy
  • Star Legacy Foundation
Full text of the legislation is available online