CAP en Español
Small CAP Banner

Idea of the Day: We Need to Do More to Guarantee Workers Paid Leave

  • print icon
  • SHARE:
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Share on Google+
  • Email icon
idea light bulb

Two decades ago our nation’s leaders took an important step toward bringing U.S. policies on family leave more closely in line with those of other developed nations. In signing the Family and Medical Leave Act into law, President Bill Clinton ensured that workers at companies with 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius would be guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave annually for events such as the birth of a child or to care for a sick loved one.

President Clinton spoke in favor of the bill on both moral and economic grounds, calling it “a matter of pure common sense and a matter of common decency.” He also emphasized that, “Over the long run, the lessons of the most productive companies in the world … are that those who put their people first are those who will triumph in the global economy.” It was the first piece of legislation President Clinton signed into law during his time in office.

Twenty years later, however, U.S. policymakers have done little more to make our workplaces and workforce more competitive, productive, and secure. Less than 60 percent of American workers are currently eligible for the protections outlined in the Family and Medical Leave Act, meaning that 54 million Americans are forced to choose between their jobs and their families’ well-being. And lawmakers have done nothing more to guarantee that new mothers can afford to take time to care for a child or that workers can remain financially secure while caring for a sick or dying parent.

For more on this topic, please see:

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or


This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

For more from the same column, click here