If you're in the running to be the Democratic party's presidential nominee, you'd better have a proposal to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (and a health care plan, but that's a story for another day). In recent weeks, the leading democratic contenders--Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, and John Edwards--have all come out with various plans to expand the FMLA. (The leading contenders who have announced, that is: According to CNN's latest poll, Al Gore is ahead of John Edwards right now.)
All three are in favor of all of the following, in some form:
Mandatory paid sick leave. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have all come out in favor of requiring companies to give employees at least seven paid sick days per year. Clinton and Obama are cosponsors of a Senate Bill, the Healthy Families Act, that would enact this requirement; additional cosponsors include presidential contenders and Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd.
Support for state-run paid leave programs. John Edwards has proposed spending $2 billion to assist states in developing programs to offer paid family leave; his goal would be for all workers to have access to eight weeks of paid family leave by 2014. Senator Clinton would spend $1 billion, and Senator Obama $1.5 billion, to help states come up with paid leave programs.
Apply the FMLA to smaller companies. Currently, the FMLA covers only companies that have at least 50 employees. All three of the democratic frontrunners support lowering this coverage threshold, so companies with at least 25 employees are covered.
To find out more about the FMLA, check out The Essential Guide to Family and Medical Leave, by me and Deborah C. England (Nolo).