HBA-BSM, SEP H.B. 240 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 240 By: Lewis, Glenn Economic Development 2/8/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 guarantees unpaid leave for childbirth or family illness. Each year many workers who qualify for family medical leave do not utilize the program. The federal program may become more effective if a state counterpart is developed using the state's unemployment insurance surplus to create a partial replacement for wages, potentially making the federal program more financially appealing and effective. Under current law, persons who voluntarily leave work for family leave are eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, but eligibility ends upon the birth of a child and does not address adoption. House Bill 240 extends eligibility for unemployment benefits to persons who voluntarily leave the workforce to care for a child in the first year following the child's birth or adoption. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Workforce Commission in SECTIONS 1 (Section 207.026, Labor Code) and SECTION 4 of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 240 amends the Labor Code to prohibit the denial of or disqualification from unemployment benefits for an individual solely because the individual is on leave from or left the individual's last employment to care for a child born to or adopted by the individual if the individual took leave or left within the first year after the date of the child's birth or placement with the individual for adoption. The individual is not required to comply with benefits provisions relating to the individual's availability for work, active search for work, or refusal to apply for or accept suitable work. The bill requires the benefit amount an eligible individual may receive to be reduced by any amount paid to the individual by an employer because of the birth or adoption of the child and by any amount paid to the individual under a disability insurance plan contributed to by an employer, in proportion to the employer's contribution to the plan. An employer is required to post notices at conspicuous places, as prescribed by Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) rule, regarding the availability of these benefits. If the individual's last separation from an employer's employment before the last benefit year occurred under the above provisions, benefits computed on benefit wage credits of an employee or former employee may not be charged to the account of that employee. TWC is required to adopt rules necessary to implement these provisions no later than November 1, 2001. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001, and applies beginning December 1, 2001.