Thursday, February 5, 2015

More needs to be done as Family and Medical Leave Act turns 22 today

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been used more than 200 million times since President Bill Clinton signed it into law 22 years ago.

It could be used even more.
  • About 40 percent of workers are not eligible for FMLA protections because their employers are too small or they have not worked for them long enough or for enough hours. 
  • Because the FMLA is unpaid leave, 80 percent of eligible workers can't afford to take it.
Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families,
points out that every time the FMLA is used,
Each of those "uses" represents a person -- a mother or father, a daughter or son, a new parent -- who, thanks to the 12 weeks of unpaid leave the FMLA guarantees, was able to take time away from their paying jobs to care for a seriously ill loved one, recover from a serious medical condition, or welcome a new child, without sacrificing their jobs.
Workers have guaranteed paid leave through programs in three states: California, New Jersey and Rhode Island. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) will introduce a bill in Congress to provide guaranteed paid leave for all American workers. It's called the FAMILY Act, for Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act.

“Being a working parent should not mean choosing between your job and taking care of yourself and your family," DeLauro said in a statement. “The single biggest economic issue facing Americans today is that too many jobs simply do not pay enough to live on."

Here's what the FAMILY Act will do:

  • Provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income when they take time for their own serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery; the serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner; the birth or adoption of child; and/or for particular military caregiving and leave purposes.
  • Enable workers to earn 66 percent of their monthly wages, up to a capped amount.
  • Cover workers in all companies, no matter their size. Younger, part-time, lower-wage and contingent workers would be eligible for benefits.
  • Be funded by small employee and employer payroll contributions of two-tenths of one
  • percent each (two cents per $10 in wages), or about $1.50 per week for a typical worker.