Senator Jon Tester (D- Montana) introduced the Parental Bereavement Act of 2011 (S. 1358), which would amend the FMLA to allow parents to take unpaid job-protected leave following the death of a child. The bill leaves in place the FMLA definition of son or daughter to cover children under age 18 and those 18 or older who can’t care for themselves because of a mental or physical disability. Biological, adopted, and foster children are covered, along with stepchildren, legal wards, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis (in place of a parent).
“Allowing time off to mourn the death of a child should have happened a long time ago because it’s simply the right thing to do for any parent,” Tester said in a statement. “When the unthinkable happens to parents, the last thing they should be worrying about is whether they’ll lose their jobs as they deal with life-changing loss. We owe this improvement to all parents, and I’m proud to push it in the Senate.”
Tester became aware of the issue from his constituents, including a mother who lost her son and explained the importance of time away from work to grieve without fear of losing her job.