House panel approves bill that would offer more leave benefits to adoptive parents

Associated Press

Some businesses in Iowa will be required to offer more leave benefits to parents of adopted children under a bill that received preliminary approval Monday from a House panel.

Members of a labor subcommittee agreed to approve the bill following a short meeting. It now heads to the full committee for consideration, where it must advance by Friday for it to survive a legislative deadline.

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The bill, which passed in the Senate earlier this month, would require businesses that offer time-off entitlements to parents of newborns to do the same for adoptive parents. A business that doesn't already offer such benefits would not be required to start.

Supporters of the bill say it would treat biological parents and adoptive parents more equally when it comes to such benefits. Adoptive parents also say they should be given such benefits because they need time to bond with a child who is new to their family.

While the bill received bipartisan support when it came up for a vote in the Senate, some lawmakers on the floor expressed concern about the financial impact on businesses. Others said the government should not be telling businesses what to do.

The bill would not have a "significant" fiscal impact, according to a representative from the bipartisan Legislative Services Agency, who spoke at the meeting Monday.

Federal law requires unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks to biological, adoptive and foster parents under the Family Medical Leave Act. But it is not applicable at businesses with less than 50 employees. It also does not apply to a worker who's been at a job for less than a year.

The bill is making its first appearance in the Legislature. If it becomes law, Iowa could become one of just a handful of states with concrete language about time-off entitlements.