“Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D – N.Y.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D – Conn.) are taking an important stand for working families today by reintroducing the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, on the heels of the 24th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FAMILY Act would build on the success of the FMLA and advance its promise of a family friendly America by establishing a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. Just 14 percent of U.S. workers have paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have paid medical leave through an employer-provided temporary disability program.
The FAMILY Act is the affordable, comprehensive paid family and medical leave plan the United States has long needed. It is simply unacceptable that millions of Americans work hard every day, yet are one birth, accident or illness away from financial devastation because our public policies fail to provide paid leave. And it is appalling that nearly one-quarter of new moms are back at work within two weeks of giving birth and that someone who leaves the workforce to care for a parent forgoes an estimated $300,000 in income and retirement savings when they do. We do not have to settle for this reality.
Most other countries and four U.S. states have figured out how to guarantee paid leave. Businesses of all sizes understand the benefits and are increasingly adopting or expanding policies of their own, and a growing number have endorsed the FAMILY Act. For the first time ever, paid leave was featured in a major way in the election. And 82 percent of 2016 voters, across demographic and party lines, say it is important for the president and Congress to consider a national paid family and medical leave law. This demand and momentum for a policy that works for all will no doubt continue.
The FAMILY Act is modeled on family leave insurance programs in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island. New York will have a similar program beginning in 2018. The FAMILY Act would create a new, self-sustaining fund to ensure workers can earn a portion of their wages for up to 12 weeks (or 60 workdays) of family or medical leave. The paid leave the FAMILY Act provides would be available to address a serious health issue, including pregnancy and childbirth; to deal with the serious health issue of a parent, spouse, domestic partner or child; to care for a newborn or newly adopted child; and/or for specific military-related purposes.
The National Partnership commends Senator Gillibrand and Representative DeLauro for being such staunch advocates for all women and families and for championing the FAMILY Act. All lawmakers who claim to value families need to take a hard look at what our nation’s paid leave crisis is costing workers and their families, businesses and the economy and join the record number of senators and representatives who have already signed on to support this bill. The FAMILY Act is a strong, tested policy and America’s working families cannot — and will not — settle for less.”
The National Partnership wrote and led the effort to pass the FMLA, which is the only federal law designed to help people manage job and family. A guide to the law’s protections is available here. The organization now convenes the coalition pushing for the FAMILY Act. Today, nearly 50 coalition members expressed support for the bill’s reintroduction and passage.
For more information on the FAMILY Act and to find out more about the extensive body of research on the benefits of paid leave, visit NationalPartnership.org/theFAMILYAct and SupportPaidLeave.org.