U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined five of her Senate colleagues to introduce the Job Protection Act. The legislation would expand the protections of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in case of family or medical emergency, to millions of Americans who are currently ineligible. Only 56% of the workforce currently qualifies for FMLA and those who are not protected are disproportionately women, Hispanic workers, and Black workers. This legislation would close gaps in FMLA coverage and expand protections to employees of small businesses, individuals who have recently changed jobs or returned to the workforce, and part-time workers.
“Workers should never have to choose between caring for their families and earning a paycheck,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Passing the Job Protection Act would ensure that the millions of Americans who work part-time, at multiple jobs, or for small businesses can take time off to recover from illness, the birth of a child, or a family emergency without putting their livelihoods at risk. Guaranteed family and medical leave is an investment in our families and our middle class and it is long overdue. Nearly 3 decades after we passed the FMLA, I look forward to fighting alongside my colleagues to expand its protections to many more Americans.”
The Job Protection Act expands protections for part-time workers and employees of small businesses by reducing the current FMLA coverage threshold for small businesses from 50 employees to one employee, eliminating the requirement that an employee work 1,250 hours at a single workplace over the previous year, and reducing the amount of time an employee must have worked at their workplace from 12 months to 90 days.
The legislation was introduced by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and is cosponsored by Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Patty Murray (D-WA). Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14) introduced the legislation in the House.
The Job Protection Act has been endorsed by over 50 national organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Military Family Association. A full list of endorsers can be found here.
The full text of the legislation is available HERE.