Family Leave Insurance Act introduced in Congress

The Family Leave Insurance Act of 2009 would provide 12 weeks of paid benefits to workers who need time off to care for a new child, ill family member, service member returning from combat, or their own illness. The program covers all employees who have paid into the fund and worked for their current employer for 6 months.

Benefits are tiered, with 100% of weekly earnings up to $20,000, 75% up to $30,000, 55% up to $60,000, 45% up to $97,000, 40% above $97,000. (Employees may use other leave to supplement.) Financing is shared between employers, employees, and federal government. Employees pay 0.2% of wages ($7 per month at median income). Employers with 20+ employees pay 0.2% of payroll; employers with fewer than 20 employees pay 0.1% of payroll.

States with materially equivalent or better paid leave programs may opt out, and companies with materially equivalent or better benefits can opt out and self-insure. The Department of Labor will contract with states to administer the program, and contract with the Social Security Commissioner in states that choose not to administer.

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