More Family Leave, Says Clinton

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President Clinton is asking agencies to give federal employees 24 hours of unpaid leave a year for family obligations.

In his weekly radio address last Saturday, Clinton said he is urging Cabinet and department heads to make the additional leave available to employees as soon as possible. Clinton is pushing Congress to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to include the unpaid leave provision for private sector employees as well.

"I think this bill is so important that today I am asking all federal departments and agencies to make expanded family and medical leave available to their workers immediately. Wherever possible, I want workers to have access right now to essential time off for family obligations," Clinton said.

The provision would allow federal employees to take time off without pay for the following reasons:

  • School and Other Educational Activities. These include parent-teacher conferences, looking for child care, and participating in volunteer activities like field trips and classroom help.
  • Routine Family Medical Needs. The Federal Employees Family Friendly Leave Act of 1994 allows employees up to 13 days of sick leave a year for their children's annual checkups, vaccinations, and other medical and dental appointments. Under Clinton's proposal, employees would be alotted an additional 24 hours of leave for those purposes.
  • Elderly Relatives' Health Care. Under present rules, employees can use unpaid leave or sick leave to care for an elderly relative. The new policy would allow employees to use the extra 24 hours of unpaid leave for routine medical and dental appointments for an elderly relative, as well as for arranging housing, meals, banking services, or other needs for them.
Clinton said the Office of Personnel Management will issue guidance on implementing his proposal. The president does not have the authority to order that the policy be enacted, so whether the proposal is adopted is at the discretion of department and agency heads.
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