Yikes! We have a bizarre, tricky, and urgent situation with President Trump and paid family and medical leave -- and we need your help letting Congress know what’s going on so they aren’t fooled.
The lowdown: While we were heartened that President Trump’s proposed budget recognized the need for paid family and medical leave, which is, indeed, an urgent priority – the administration’s approach is not only terribly flawed, but also is coming at the same time as Trump is proposing massive cuts to the programs that lift families and our economy the most. In other words, name-checking this policy in Trump’s budget is a smokescreen for him pushing through many other bad policies that hurt families and our economy.
*Don’t be fooled by this trickery! CLICK HERE to help us let Congress know about the Administration's trickery too!
We’re going to be direct with you: This is NOT a normal time in politics. The Administration has been all over the map on their policy stands in unprecedentedly chaotic ways. So especially in times like now, actions speak louder than words, and Trump’s actions, including the specifics of the paid family leave proposal itself, Trump’s recent executive orders, his proposed budget overall, and his legislative stances – including advocating for pulling health care access from more than 20 million people – prove that this paid family leave policy proposal is a smokescreen.
*CLICK HERE to tell Congress not to be fooled by Trump. It’s time to makepaid family and medical leave available for how families, businesses, and our economy really work!
The good news is that on the whole momentum for paid family and medical leave is continuing to grow across the country, and that’s very good news.
The bad news is that the “new plan” for paid parental leave proposal in the Trump Administration’s budget is fatally flawed: It would leave behind millions of Americans who need paid family and medical leave, it places tremendous burdens on states, and it provides no sustainable funding to implement the plan.
In fact, it’s not really a “plan” at all. It’s mainly smokescreen for the Trump administration’s other proposed cuts to key programs that lift families and our economy.
We won’t be fooled!
*Congress needs to reject the Trump “plan” and instead focus on moving forward what we all know working families and our national economy truly need: A comprehensive, robust, paid family and medical leave program that lifts our economy, businesses and families.
To be blunt, the Administration's proposal pays lipservice to the idea of supporting families and the economy, but it actuality leaves most working American families behind. For example, although the more than 20 million Americans need to take unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) each year, the Trump Administration’s proposal covers only new parents leaving 4 out of 5 workers (or 15 million) behind.
In addition to leaving out an overwhelming majority of American families, Trump’s “plan” is unfunded and unsustainable. It’s unsustainable because it calls for states to use their existing, severely strained unemployment insurance safety net programs but provides no new additional funds to the states to expand these programs.
The Trump “plan” is plainly and manipulatively meant to be a smoke screen to distract from the callous and punishing cuts Trump propose in his budget that would hurt lower-income families, immigrants, communities of color, people with disabilities and children the most while lining the pockets of billionaires.
Congress can and should reject the Trump budget overall, and specifically Trump’s divisive and distracting paid family leave “plan” that leaves over 15 million families behind. At the same time, Congress CAN and SHOULD work to pass a robust paid family and medical leave insurance policy that boosts families and businesses.
There is time for us to speak out and put an end to proposals that will harm and not help working families and our national economy.
It’s very unfortunate that this is the approach the Trump administration is taking because: right now only 14% of working people in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employer. And although the current Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows some employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave, it only covers about 60 percent of employees. Further, many people who are eligible to take FMLA can’t afford to take it, because FMLA's unpaid. This lack of paid, job-protected leave is why 1 in 4 new mothers is back at work within 10 days of having a baby and also why 1 in 4 retirees leaves the workforce earlier than planned because they need time away from work to care for a spouse or loved one.
Working families need a robust detail-driven paid family and medical leave policy that is more than maternity and paternity. We need an insurance plan that is accessible to all working people, inclusive when it comes defining family, affordable and cost-effective and sustainable for workers, employers, and taxpayers and provides a meaningful length of leave. We need a program that has sustainable funding - like insurance-style programs that lift the financial burden off of individual businesses and can help keep people in the jobs they need.
Whether it’s to care for a newborn you swear already smiles, a mom who is severely ill, or a spouse battling cancer, being there for family is what matters. No one should permanently lose their job when urgent family matters arise. That’s why over 177 countries already have some form of paid leave. It’s time for us to catch up.
What we need is a national paid family and medical leave policy because no one should be forced to choose between a paycheck and taking care of family.
States Leading the Way
The good news is momentum is building across the country. Four states - California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and most recently New York have passed paid family and medical leave. New York’s law goes into effect in 6 months! DC has also passed paid family and medical leave which will go into effect in 2019.
In 2017 alone, over 20 states have introduced some sort of paid family and medical leave insurance legislation. MomsRising is working closely with paid family leave campaigns across the country. Learn more about their efforts below:
MomsRising is working closely with Connecticut Campaign for Paid Family Leave on a paid leave proposal that is affordable for Connecticut workers and businesses, is accessible to all working people, is inclusive when it comes to defining family, and offers a meaningful length of time for care and healing. S.B. 1 and H.B. 6212, An Act Establishing Paid Family and Medical Leave are fully funded through an insurance-style program that lifts the financial burden off businesses. There is less than a month to go before the legislature adjourns and Connecticut families can’t wait. CLICK HERE to sign NOW to ask your state legislator to support paid family leave!
MomsRising is working with our members in NH and other statewide partners to ensure that New Hampshire moves forward to offer a paid family and medical leave program that provides adequate time to care, effectively covers all New Hampshire families and provides an appropriate level of reimbursement for workers. A New Hampshire House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services subcommittee is actively working on HB 628, An Act Relative to a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. trying to come up with a solution for all New Hampshire families. We want to keep this issue front and center with Governor Sununu. Please urge Governor Sununu to support Paid Family and Medical leave.
MomsRising is working with the Massachusetts Paid Family Leave Coalition to ensure that workers are able to take job-protected leave and receive wage replacement after the arrival of new child or to provide care to ill family member or to recover from their serious health condition. On June 15th the Labor and Workforce Development Committee in the Massachusetts State House will hold a hearing on SD. 1768, An Act Establishing Paid Family and Medical Leave and lawmakers need to hear from you. CLICK HERE to urge your legislator to stand up for Massachusetts families and support paid family and medical leave.
In Oregon, MomsRising is working with Family Forward Oregon to help ensure that ALL working families in Oregon will have access to paid family and medical leave. The paid family leave proposal would allow Oregon workers to take job-protected leave and provide wage replacement after the arrival of new child or to provide care to ill family member or to recover from their serious health condition. The proposal had its first hearing earlier this spring and has been referred to the Revenue Committee for further consideration. Oregonians, CLICK HERE to ask your state legislator to lead on leave!
Moms, dads, grandparents, and family members across Washington State made historic progress on paid family and medical leave this year! We saw paid family and medical leave proposals from both sides of the aisle and from both the House and Senate for the first time in state history. Discussions between legislators, advocates, business representatives, and organized labor are continuing into the special sessions.
We will keep you updated as we move forward, but one thing is for sure: the MOMentum on paid family and medical leave in growing in big ways and will continue to do so all the way to the finish line. CLICK HERE to be a part of the MOMentum by joining the Washington State Moms Force on paid family and medical leave:
MomsRising Members Share Their Experiences
“I am currently on paid leave to care for my elderly father following a hip replacement and also a horrible year of health challenges. He is independent again because of his health aides, visiting PT, and family. I live far away so I cannot assist my sisters and Dad but I can take paid leave to be a live-in, all-around caregiver for a few weeks. I'm finishing up and going back home to my own family.”
"I have two daughters and I work full time as a teacher. I gave birth to both of my daughters in Utah. When we decided to plan for a second child, we had to save for over a year in order to be able to afford the financial hardship of being without a second income for three months. I took off the twelve weeks afforded to me through the FMLA, but it wasn't nearly enough time to fully bond with my daughter. When I returned to work, I was still breastfeeding my baby. My school did not have any reserved space for pumping, so I had to pump in a bathroom twice a day. Instead of feeling the joy of motherhood, I felt as though I was being penalized for being a working mother. I would love to have another child, but I do not think my family could afford to have another period like this in our lives. Mothers, fathers, and children deserve more than this. This special time of life should be a time of celebration and joy, not one of financial anxiety."
"When my father in law was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer paid leave helped us to take time off from work to help care for him at home until he passes away. Having paid leave help us by decrease the financial burden it would've cost us to put him in a facility at a cost of $300 a day. But most of all it allow us to opportunity to provide him person one on one care from a family member eliminating the stress of warring if he was being care for appropriately. It also gave us the piece of mine to know we still had our job to return to after Dad passed. In this day when so many business are all about the bottom line of profit. It's important to know that paid family leave is there to assist employees when they need to care for himself or their family."
"My first pregnancy I was a part time employee. I received no paid leave, and was forced to borrow money from my in laws to make my mortgage payments and keep food on the table. My second pregnancy I received 12 weeks unpaid leave add mandated by law. 6 weeks I received 50% pay from my long term disability insurance, but I had to use that to pay my employer for my insurance premiums. Again, I had to rely on my in laws generosity to afford my bills. When I returned to work I had been moved departments to one that did not allow work from home. Since it was considered a lateral move I was not protected, even though working from home was a benefit I counted on to be able to care for my children during snow days and school holidays, since I only receive 2 weeks pto annually."
Did you get any paid family leave after a new baby arrived or to take care of a seriously ill family member? How did it work for you? Or, are you someone who had to cobble together a patchwork of vacation and sick days to stay home?