“Twenty-six years after the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) it’s clear that unpaid leave is not enough. It’s past time for the next step: paid family and medical leave for all people, no matter where they live or work or the nature of their job.
The FMLA was an important step forward for gender equality in the workplace and has allowed millions of working people to take time to bond with a new child, care for a sick loved one or address their own serious health issue without risking a job. However, after more than a quarter century, just 17 percent of all working people have access to paid family leave through their employer, and only 39 percent have medical leave through an employer-provided short-term disability program. Just 59 percent of workers are eligible for the FMLA’s protections, and millions more simply cannot afford to go weeks without a paycheck.
No one should have to choose between financial security and seeing their child’s first smile, holding the hand of a dying parent, or seeking treatment for cancer, but the majority of working people face this impossible choice when the inevitable happens.
Fortunately, lawmakers across party lines, a growing number of businesses, and the vast majority of voters recognize that without paid leave, our country’s working people, families, businesses and economy are suffering. In fact, during tonight’s State of the Union, you may hear the president call for paid family leave for all. While we welcome the long-overdue attention to this critical issue, we will not accept an inadequate parents-only paid leave plan that lacks dedicated funding.
America’s workers and families deserve an inclusive, sustainably funded paid family and medical leave law that addresses all family and personal medical care needs. Anything less will leave the promise of the FMLA unfulfilled.”