Feingold, Casey Work To Reduce Burden On Military Families

Military Family Support Act Would Allow Designated Caregivers Flexibility in Using Leave Time for Responsibilities Incurred by a Loved One Being Deployed

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation today to help reduce the burden on military families when a loved one is deployed overseas by providing them with increased flexibility in the use of their leave time at work.  The Military Family Support Act (MFSA) would authorize federal employees who have been designated as “caregivers” by the Armed Forces to use their previously earned leave time in a more flexible manner.  Last year, the Senate unanimously passed virtually identical legislation offered by Feingold and former Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) as part of the Defense Authorization bill but the language was stripped in conference.

“This bill will bring a small but important measure of relief to the families of our men and women in uniform who already sacrifice so much when their loved ones are deployed in service to our country,” Feingold said. “Military families often face unique challenges and we should help reduce the burdens they face.”

“Our military families have made tremendous sacrifices for this country; we owe it to them to provide them with some modest relief,” said Casey.  “This bill will allow family members of our service men and women time off to help prepare them for deployment or help with the burden of taking care of their children when a single parent is deployed.  I am pleased to join Senator Feingold to work on this important issue.”

The MFSA, supported by the National Military Family Association, would create two pilot programs to provide additional leave options for persons who have been designated as caregivers.  The bill would require the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to set up a program that allows caregivers who are federal employees to use leave time available to them for purposes directly relating to or resulting from their designation as a caregiver.

This bill would also require the Secretary of Labor to establish a voluntary program under which private sector companies would create similar opportunities for their employees and to solicit participation from private sector companies.

The Military Family Support Act does not impact the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and all private-sector participation in the programs outlined in the bill is voluntary. 

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