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Idea of the Day: The Value of Paid Family Leave

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act, a landmark bill that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993. The law, which President Clinton called “a matter of pure common sense and a matter of common decency,” was a huge victory for American families. It gave legal weight to the timeless value of family caregiving, ensuring that workers at companies with 50 or more employees would be guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a new baby or sick family member.

But while the FMLA was a major step in the right direction, it has not kept pace with a changing America. Although unpaid leave is useful for some workers, roughly 40 percent of the nation’s workforce still does not qualify for the benefits of the law. In addition, many who do qualify cannot afford to take unpaid leave. Going without a paycheck for 12 weeks is simply not an option for millions of American workers despite the urgent needs of their families.

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Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
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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