Paid Leave is Good for Working Families
The passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 21 years ago was a first attempt at bridging the gap between work and family by providing unpaid leave to workers who qualify. But with fewer than half of workers qualifying for leave, and even more unable to sacrifice their paychecks, millions of people are faced with an impossible choice: work or family?
A new bill has just been introduced that will make sure workers never have to face this question. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (H.R. 1439, S. 786)—the FAMILY Act—would provide workers with the opportunity to care for themselves and their families while keeping their jobs and their incomes secure.The FAMILY Act would do this by:
- Providing eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a number of circumstances, including parental leave, a personal illness, or the illness of a child, parent or spouse;
- Creating an insurance fund of low-cost contributions from both employees and employers that would provide workers with 66 percent of their income (capped at a fixed amount and indexed for inflation) while on leave;
- Paying for the insurance fund through payroll contributions from both employers and their workers at only two cents for every $10 earned—for most workers, this would be less than $2 a week;
- Making leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer, including the self-employed and unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history. In this way it would apply to young, part-time, and low-wage workers; and
- Protecting workers who take paid leave from employer retaliation.
Twenty one years after FMLA it’s clear: we need to make it easier for all workers to meet the needs of their families without fear of losing their paycheck. Paid leave is good for working families, good for business, and good for the economy. Ask your legislators to support the FAMILY Act today!