WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is playing host to former President Bill Clinton to mark the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the first piece of legislation that the 42nd president signed into law after taking office in 1993.
Biden and Clinton will take part in an event Thursday at the White House to put the spotlight on legislation that guaranteed many American workers up to 12 unpaid weeks off to recover from major illness or childbirth or to take care of sick family members. Clinton signed the bill into law on Feb. 5, 1993.
Biden championed but failed to win support for paid leave for workers in 2021. On Thursday, he will sign a memorandum that calls on heads of federal agencies to support access to unpaid family and medical leave for federal workers in their first year on the job, according to the White House. Workers aren’t entitled to unpaid leave under the law until they’ve been employed for a year.
The president is also directing the Office of Personnel Management to provide recommendations on developing policies so workers can get paid and unpaid leave to seek safety or recover from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking. Such situations are not covered by the family leave law.
“This event is a moment to recognize the difference that the Family and Medical Leave Act has made and continues to make for millions of Americans,” said Jen Klein, the White House director of gender policy. “The president will recognize the work that remains to be done to support workers including by reaffirming this administration’s commitment to passing a national paid family and medical leave program.”
Early in 2021, Biden proposed vastly expanding the family leave law to give workers up to 12 weeks of paid parental, family and personal illness leave and to ensure workers get three days of bereavement leave per year as part of a massive $3.5 trillion social spending plan.
His plan called for providing workers up to $4,000 a month, with a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages replaced. The White House estimated the program would cost more than $225 billion over a decade.
Paid family leave didn’t make it into the slimmed-down climate and health care legislation that Biden signed into law in August.
It won’t be Clinton’s first trip to the Biden White House. Biden hosted Clinton, a fellow Democrat, at the White House in May for lunch.