In 1993 lawmakers on both sides of the aisle came together to enact the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 22 years ago today the FMLA was implemented and began providing workers with the ability to take time off to care for themselves, or a sick or injured loved one, without fear of losing their job.
The FMLA was the first legislation of its kind and it was the first step in creating a fair and family friendly workplace environment. Since the law was implemented on August 5th, 1993 FMLA benefits have been used over 200 million times, according to a study conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families.
While the policy has been a huge success, it only works for people who can afford it. Too many workers are unable to take advantage of their benefits due to the loss of income they would face while on leave. In fact, a Department of Labor study cited “financial impossibility” as the number one reason given when people were asked why they didn’t take leave that they were eligible for.
That is why Congress should pass the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMILY) Act to support families when they need it most. Small contributions from the employee and the employer would ensure that the employee will receive a portion of their salary during their period of leave. Similar insurance programs are in place in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island and they serve as a testament to the success of the policy.
In today’s economy households depend on multiple earners, and small businesses depend on families that can afford to shop for their goods and services. Providing an insurance policy that allows workers to continue receiving a paycheck while they; take time off to welcome a new member of the family, recover from an illness, or provide care for a sick or injured loved one is the right move for families, businesses, and our economy.
The FMLA serves as a model for what Congress can get done when they work across the aisle and lend bi-partisan support to legislation. Congress should reach across the aisle again and pass the FAMILY Act, ensuring that all workers who are eligible for protected periods of leave can afford to take it.
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