Washington, D.C. — Today, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) reintroduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, which would ensure that workers have access to paid family and medical leave when they need it the most. In response to the bill reintroduction, Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden issued the following statement:
Every day, families across the country grapple with the competing demands of work and family responsibilities, such as welcoming a newborn, caring for an aging parent or a sick child, or recovering from a personal illness. Yet many of these families are forced to navigate these challenges without adequate workplace protections, forcing workers to choose between their caregiving responsibilities and the financial security of their jobs. But for too many families, they can’t afford to take time off work to address their responsibilities at home. Guaranteeing that workers have access to paid family and medical leave would provide working families—especially low-income workers and families of color, who disproportionately lack access to these protections—the flexibility and security needed to fulfill both their work and family obligations.
The FAMILY Act offers a critical first step toward ensuring today’s workplace policies meet the demands of a 21st century economy. Paid family and medical leave would not only make an enormous difference for workers struggling with work-life balance, but it also would foster a healthier, more productive workforce by helping workers achieve a better balance when work and life compete. I applaud Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman DeLauro for their leadership and hope Congress will truly value families by ensuring all Americans can have peace of mind knowing that if they or a loved one falls ill, they will be able to care for their family without risking their economic stability.
The United States is the only developed nation that does not guarantee paid sick leave for its workers, and only three states—California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island—offer guaranteed family leave policies. A national paid family and medical leave program would enable workers to receive a portion of their income when they need to take time away from work to care for their families or themselves, support that is critical for many families trying to make ends meet. Only 12 percent of private-sector workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have access to medical leave through job-provided short-term disability insurance.
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