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Senate Clears Family-Leave BillBut Veto by Bush Is Threatened

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Washington--The Senate late last week passed and sent to President Bush legislation requiring firms with more than 50 employees to grant workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for newborn, newly adopted, or newly placed foster children or ill family members.

The bill, which the House passed last month, has evoked a veto threat from the White House, which strongly opposes federally mandated employee benefits.

The measure, passed by voice vote after little debate, contains4provisions to minimize disruptions in education when school employees take leave. School districts, for example, could require teachers to return from leave at the start of a new semester rather than the last few weeks of the old one; temporarily reassign those whose medical treatment requires frequent absences; or, if local policies permit, transfer them to different classes on their return from leave.

The bill would cover only about 5 percent of the nation's employers but 44 percent of its workers.--dc

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