A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has brought forward a bill to end restrictions on family leave imposed on married couples who work for the same employer. The current provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act place limits on the time that married couples working at the same place can take off to care for a newborn, adopted child or ailing parent. If the reforms described in the Fair Access for Individuals to Receive Leave Act become law, married co-workers in New York and nationwide would have a right to each take 12 weeks off during a 12-month period.

The FMLA originally established that qualifying employees could take up to 12 workweeks off without pay and still have a right to return to their jobs. People use the law to care for themselves after a medical crisis or care for newborn or sick family members. The senators backing the bill believe that married co-workers should not have to face unfair limits on their access to family or medical leave.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema said that the bill would fix a significant shortcoming within the original FMLA wherein married couples at the same employer must split the 12 weeks between them. Senator Mike Lee criticized the current law because it essentially punished married co-workers. The proposed bill would also extend leave to as long as 26 weeks when spouses need time off to care for seriously ill or injured military service members.

An employee who feels that an employer did not follow the rules outlined in the Family and Medical Leave Act might want legal advice. An attorney might determine whether an employer has wrongly denied a leave request or illegally terminated someone’s job after taking family leave. The advocacy of an attorney might enable a person to maintain employment or hold an organization financially responsible if it violated the law.