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Rep. Porter Spearheads Bipartisan Bill to Strike Loophole in Family Leave Policy

Legislation would eliminate penalty against married parents who take leave while working for the same employer

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to close an unfair loophole that limits how much leave certain married people can take. The FAIR Leave Act—or Fair Access for Individuals to Receive Leave Act—would amend federal family leave policy to allow married couples working for the same employer to take the same amount of leave as couples working for different employers. 

“The purpose of family leave is to help families take time off to care for themselves or loved ones in need,” said Porter, a single mom of three school-aged kids. “But a loophole in the current law allows employers to give some workers less support, just because they happen to be married and working for the same employer. I’m reaching across the aisle to end this marriage penalty, because discriminating against these families makes our workplaces less safe and keeps certain Americans from fully participating in our workforce.”

While federal law provides unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, a loophole allows employers to force married couples working for the same employer to share their leave. That means those couples cannot spend as much time with new babies or caring for loved ones or servicemembers. Porter’s FAIR Leave Act would strike this marriage penalty.

Porter’s bill enables eligible spouses working for the same employer to each take up to 12 work weeks (24 total) of unpaid leave in a 12 month period for the following reasons:

  • The birth of a son or daughter;
  • The placement and adoption of a child; or
  • The care of a parent with a serious health condition.

It also allows eligible spouses to each take 26 weeks to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

The FAIR Leave Act is co-led by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Andy Levin (MI-9), John Katko (NY-24), Haley Stevens (MI-11), and Ashley Hinson (IA-1). In addition, 24 members of the House of Representatives also joined as original cosponsors of the legislation, which is endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, National Partnership for Women and Families, PL+US, and 1,000 Days.

A single mom of three school-aged kids, Congresswoman Porter has been a staunch advocate for families throughout her time in Congress. She recently reintroduced legislationto strike an unfair penalty against single parents in the tax code, as well as a bill to more than double the amount of pre-tax income families can set aside for dependent care. She has also been an outspoken advocate for moms, who have been disproportionately forced out of work during the pandemic.