TAKE ACTION: Plus baby, minus paycheck?
“When I had my first child I had to return to work within 3 weeks. I was teaching High School science…I only had 2 weeks of paid vacation so I used all of it. I only had a third week off because my daughter’s birth came at spring break.” – MomsRising member Holly from Colorado
Unfortunately, Holly's situation is not uncommon in the United States, the only industrialized country in the world without a national paid leave policy.
Only 11 percent of Americans have access to paid family leave through their employers. Yes, the 20-year-old Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows some employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected (but unpaid) leave. But FMLA only covers about 60 percent of employees. Further, many people who are eligible to take FMLA can’t afford to take it, because it's unpaid.
That's the bad news.
Here's the good news: We can change this. Leaders in Congress will soon introduce a paid family leave bill (including maternity/paternity leave) called the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act).
Tell your U.S. House and Senate members to support and co-sponsor the FAMILY Act.
The FAMILY Act is an insurance program that would provide workers—including those who are self-employed and/or work part time—with much-needed income while they, or a family member, deal with the arrival of a new baby or a serious health issue. Eligible employees could take up to 60 workdays (12 weeks) away from their job with partial wage replacement (up to 66% of their typical wages) to take care of themselves or a family member in a one-year period. The new, self-sustaining fund would be created through very small, shared costs to employees and employers. Employees and employers would contribute two cents for every $10 in wages. Self-employed and part-time employees would earn paid family and medical leave as well.
Did you know:
- Paid family leave after the birth of a child combats poverty, gives children a healthy start, and lowers infant mortality by more than 20%.
- Paid leave saves significant tax dollars and reduces reliance on public assistance.
- Paid leave helps lower the wage gap between women and men.
- Paid leave is good for business: A 2011 study of the California Paid Leave program showed that most employers found that paid family leave had a positive effect on productivity, profitability/performance, turnover and employee morale.
It’s true! Let’s make paid leave a reality for all Americans. Tell your members of Congress to support and co-sponsor the FAMILY Act when it’s introduced.
We need the FAMILY Act now more than ever before. For the first time in history, women comprise half of the paid labor force, three-quarters of moms are in the labor force, and the majority of families need two working parents to make ends meet. This, and the fact that over 80 percent of women in our nation have children by the time they are 44, add up-so you can see why Congress must prioritize paid family leave, like our MomsRising members do. It is long past time for our public policies to catch up to the modern realities of families today.
Under the FAMILY Act, employees could take paid leave provided under this new law for the same reasons that they can take FMLA leave today-for the birth of a child, their own serious health issue, including pregnancy, to deal with the serious health issue of a parent, spouse, domestic partner or child. In addition, the program would allow people to care for a new child and/or be used for particular military caregiving and leave purposes.
Whether it’s to care for a newborn you swear already smiles, a mom who is ill, or a spouse battling cancer, being there for family is what matters. You shouldn't have to give up a paycheck to do it. It's time for paid family leave.
Tell your members of Congress to support and co-sponsor the FAMILY Act.
P.S. Your words are powerful! Do you have a personal story about the need for paid family leave? Share your thoughts here: http://action.momsrising.org/go/3397?t=11&akid=4850.1819415.1BMFoE