25 years ago the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law. FMLA is the first and only national law that guarantees (some) workers in the U.S. unpaid time away from work to care for themselves and their loved ones, and has been an important step forward to help America’s workers meet the dual demands of work and family.
But now, 25 years later, it’s clear that America’s families need and deserve better.
- Unpaid leave is not enough. Right now, millions of working parents who are eligible to take time off from work under the FMLA simply cannot afford to because it is UNPAID.
- All workers need paid leave. Nearly 40% of America’s workers are not eligible to take time off under the FMLA – this means millions of moms and dads across the country have no job protection to take time off when their child is born.
Currently, only a small minority of workers in the U.S. have access to paid leave through their employers. All too often parents are forced to choose between taking time off from work to care for their young children and earning the income they need to support their families.
Yet, a week ago in his State of the Union, President Trump said: “And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave.”
We couldn’t agree more. But we must not settle for just any paid leave plan. 1,000 Days has outlined its principles for paid leave, including:
- It is available to all workers, regardless of the size of their employer or the sector they work in;
- It is comprehensive, available for the full range of personal medical and family caregiving needs;
- It provides sufficient time off, at minimum 12 weeks; and
- It ensures economic security by maintaining employees’ wages and benefits.
As a country we are failing to meet the needs of our families. It’s time for a change.
This year 1,000 Days will urge Congress and the Trump Administration to invest in the health and economic security of families by passing a comprehensive national paid leave policy that helps all working parents give their children the strongest start to life.