Senator Gillibrand, Representative DeLauro Introduce New Family Leave Policy
December 16, 2013 by Andrea Levario, Senior Public Policy Advocate
Last week, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D–CT) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY), put the interests of America’s families and the need to have work-life balance front and center when they introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act), S. 1810/H.R. 3712. The legislation calls for first-ever national paid family and medical leave insurance program.
Currently, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), passed 20 years ago, provides workers with access to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Due to the eligibility requirements of that law, over 40% of workers in the United States aren’t eligible to access these benefits. Among those who are eligible for FMLA leave, many including low-wage workers often find they cannot afford to go without a paycheck. Across this country, just 12 percent of the workforce has paid family leave through their employers, and less than 40 percent has personal medical leave through an employer-provided disability program.
The FAMILY Act establishes an efficient, self-sustaining national insurance fund paid for through employee and employer payroll contributions of two-tenths of one percent of a worker’s wages (two cents for every $10 in wages), to provide benefits and pay for administrative expenses. This is a contribution of less than $1.50 per week for a typical worker. The new program would be administered through the United States Social Security Administration and apply to all workers who qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Under the bill, workers would receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave—funded by joint contributions from workers and employers—to care for a new child or seriously ill family member. Married, same-sex couples (‘spouses’) and domestic partners would both be eligible to utilize the leave provided by the FAMILY Act.
Passing the FAMILY Act would allow the U.S. to join every other industrial country that values workers and by providing paid leave. HRC will be working with Rep. DeLauro and Senator Gillibrand, and our coalition partners to advance this important legislation in the year ahead.
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