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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 12, 2000



Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will announce a new initiative enabling states to offer paid leave options for working parents. The $20 million proposal will make it more affordable for more parents to take time from work to care for loved ones. President Clinton today, will also call on Congress to expand the scope of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and allow an additional 10 million workers to benefit from this law. Today's budget initiative is part of the President's agenda to help America's families balance responsibilities at work and at home, and builds on the Administration's longstanding efforts to make parental leave more widely available.

MAKING PARENTAL LEAVE MORE AFFORDABLE. A 1996 study by the Commission on Family and Medical Leave found that the most significant reason why parents did not choose to take some leave during the important days after the birth or adoption of a child was because of the expected loss of income. To help address this problem, President Clinton today, will announce that his FY 2001 budget includes $20 million in grants for states or regions to make parental and family leave more available and affordable for those who need it. Under the President's proposal, states will be able to: 1) identify workers who face the greatest financial barriers to taking family leave, and 2) use Unemployment Insurance, Temporary Disability Insurance, or other mechanisms to offer these workers paid leave. Today's proposal builds on a November announcement by the President and Labor Secretary Herman of a new proposed regulation allowing states to use their Unemployment Insurance systems to provide paid leave for new parents.

WORKING TO EXPAND THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT. Since the President signed the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993, more than 20 million Americans have been able to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child, attend to their own serious health needs, or care for a seriously ill parent, child, or spouse. Today, the President will also urge Congress to cover an additional 10 million workers by expanding the scope of the FMLA to more small businesses -- that employ 25 or more employees. (Currently the law covers only businesses with over 50 employees). The President will again call on Congress to allow FMLA-eligible workers to take up to 24 hours of additional leave each year to meet certain family obligations - specifically, to 1) participate in school activities, such as parent-teacher conferences; 2) accompany one's child to routine dental or medical appointments; and 3) accompany an elderly relative to routine medical appointments or other professional services.

BUILDING ON A STRONG RECORD OF FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE. In addition to signing the Family and Medical Leave Act and proposing new rules to allow states to offer paid leave options, President Clinton has also worked to ensure that the federal government leads by example. At the President's direction, the federal government now allows employees to use up to 12 weeks of accrued sick leave each year to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Federal employees can also take up to 24 hours of unpaid leave for routine family responsibilities such as parent-teacher conferences and doctor's visits, and can donate annual leave to other employees. The President's FY 2001 budget will help give all Americans more tools to meet their responsibilities at home and at work - by doubling funding for after-school programs, investing an additional $1 billion in Head Start, providing expanded tax credits and more subsidies for child care, and tripling the proposed tax credit for long-term care costs.