From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
February 9, 2009
Contact: Kathryn Freeman, (512) 463-0126

Van de Putte and McClendon File Texas Family Leave Act

AUSTIN — This week Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) and Representative Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio) filed legislation that would allow parents to take two weeks of paid accrued leave or collect unemployment benefits if no leave has been accrued for a new birth, adoption or placement of a foster child.

Currently, the Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period. However, many parents simply can not afford to take unpaid leave, especially in this economic climate where many families have already been reduced to one paycheck. Without paid leave, many parents are forced to hurry back to work without taking the time they need to acclimate themselves and their family to a new addition.

SB 692 and HB 1057 would give parents the statutory right to at least two weeks of paid leave to care for newborns, newly adopted children or foster children. New parents would have the choice of using either sick or other accrued leave. If they are without sick or accrued leave or their employer does not provide paid leave, they would be eligible for unemployment benefits. Texas lags behind many other states in implementing family friendly work policies such as paid parental leave which helps parents juggle work and family.

"It is unfair to force parents to choose between caring for a new addition to their family or their paycheck. Without paid family leave that is exactly what we are asking many families to do," said Van de Putte.

Representative McClendon said, "In today's working world, parents are scrambling to carve out family time from all the demands of the work day. When a new baby comes along, it brings a total change of life structure. Having time to adjust physically and mentally is essential before the parent or parents return to work with the ability to focus clearly."

"As a working mom, I understand firsthand how hard it is for parents to balance their families economic security and the needs of the newest members of their families. Having paid family leave will allow parents to make choices based on what is best for their family and not out of fear," said Van de Putte.

SB 692 and HB 1057 are part of family leave legislative package filed by Senator Van de Putte and Representative McClendon that also includes SB 649 and HB 1005 which allows parents to leave work briefly to attend parent-teacher conferences or participate in their child's school activities. These bills are aimed at making Texas business more family friendly workplaces.