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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 22, 2020 02:30 PM
From: Senator Jay Costa
To: All Senate members
Subject: Extending Family Medical Leave Act Coverage to Domestic Partnerships
Please join me in co-sponsoring SB 635 from last session, legislation to address an unjust gap in our federal and state medical leave laws that results in millions of domestic partnership households without equal access to employer-provided family leave benefits across the nation.

This issue was brought to my attention by one of my constituents. Currently, the federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides employees subject to the FMLA with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for specific family or medical reasons, including the serious health condition of one’s spouse. The FMLA does not apply to unmarried employees with domestic partners. This means a Pennsylvania employee otherwise eligible under the FMLA that is engaged in a long-term, committed relationship with another person, with whom she shares a home and the common necessities of life, and both of which have chosen not to marry for personal reasons, is not entitled to the same family medical leave rights to care for her life partner when he is ill as other married employees are entitled to do.

To fix this, my legislation would establish the “Pennsylvania Family and Medical Leave Act” to extend the same 12 weeks of leave to employees with domestic partners in this Commonwealth. A domestic relationship will be defined as two individuals in a long-term committed relationship who:

(1) are residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; or one of whom is employed in the Commonwealth, owns real property in the Commonwealth, owns and operates a business in the Commonwealth, or is a recipient of or has a vested interest in employee benefits from the Commonwealth;
(2) are at least 18 years old and competent to contract;
(3) are not related to each other by blood in any way which would prohibit marriage in the Commonwealth;
(4) have no other domestic partner but the other person;
(5) have not been a member of a different domestic partnership for the past three months unless the prior domestic partnership ended as a result of the death of the other domestic partner;
(6) agree to share the common necessities of life and to be responsible for each other’s common welfare;
(7) share at least one residence with the other domestic partner; and
(8) agree under penalty of law to notify the Department of Labor & Industry of any change in the status of the domestic partnership.

There is no reason that we should not treat all employees of employers subject to the FMLA equally in this Commonwealth.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.  Previous co-sponsors include Senators Fontana, Street, Tartaglione, Santarsiero, Brewster, Hughes, Collett, Kearney and Haywood.

Introduced as SB746