‘Paid Leave Is Long Overdue’
February 5, 2018
Statement from Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRising, a national online and on-the-ground organization of more than 1 million mothers and their families, on the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act
“Nothing should keep you from caring for a loved one battling cancer, being with a parent nearing their final days, or bonding with a new baby. But that is exactly the case for far too many U.S. workers because our leave laws are out of date and haven’t evolved to meet the needs of working families or our global economy.
“A quarter of a century ago, our country took a huge step forward in support of working moms with enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which required certain employers to provide workers with 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave to welcome a new child, care for an ill family member or recover from a serious illness. The FMLA was a historic victory, but it was always meant to be a starting point. Now, 25 years later, it’s time to take the next step and pass paid family and medical leave so all people can care for their families without fear of losing their jobs or their families’ financial security.
“Paid leave is long overdue in this country – right now, only 15 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid leave through their employers and many working people who are eligible to use FMLA don’t because they can’t afford to take unpaid time away from work. We are the only industrialized nation without this key policy in place. This is outrageous. We know that paid family and medical leave is beneficial not just to workers and families, but also to businesses and our economy. Paid leave improves worker retention, decreases turnover and boosts employee morale. That’s why we’ve seen so many businesses implementing their own paid leave policies in the last several years. But we need a national standard – one that reflects the many dimensions of our families and lives and is accessible, affordable and inclusive.
“The momentum is on our side – voters overwhelmingly support paid leave and, thanks in part to the powerful and tireless advocacy of women and families, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have come forward with proposed solutions. Unfortunately, some of these proposals are deeply flawed – they would actually harm women, ask workers to cut into their future Social Security benefits, or fail to include job protections. That’s why we urge policymakers to pass the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a social insurance fund with small contributions from employees and employers. This legislation would provide all workers with a meaningful amount of leave to meet the full range of caregiving needs, and would be affordable, cost-effective and sustainable for workers, employers and taxpayers.
“The FMLA has helped hundreds of millions of families take the time they need to bond with a new child or help a loved one recover from illness without fear of losing their job. But we need to keep moving forward and take the next step to boost our economy, strengthen our families, improve our health and foster more equitable workplaces. It’s time to build on the FMLA’s success by passing the FAMILY Act to ensure that all workers have access to paid family and medical leave.”