Purchase, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) today announced legislation that would create paid family and medical leave. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, ensuring that American workers would no longer have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or a family member. The officials will be joined by Working Mother Media President Carol Evans at MasterCard, which was chosen by Working Mother as one of their 2013 Best Companies.
“When a young parent needs time to care for a newborn child – it should never come down to an outdated policy that lets her boss decide how long it will take – and decide the fate of her career and her future along with it. When any one of us – man or woman – needs time to care for a dying parent – we should not have to sacrifice our job and risk our future to do the right thing for our family. Choosing between your loved ones and your career and your future is a choice no one should have to make,” said Senator Gillibrand.
“In 1986, when I was Chief of Staff to Senator Chris Dodd, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “My doctors caught it early, but I still needed time for radiation treatment, recuperation and recovery. Senator Dodd told me to focus on getting well, and to take the time I needed. I could get better without worrying if I was out of a job or paycheck. All workers should have this opportunity when they need it. No one should have to choose between their job and taking care of themself and their family. With the FAMILY Act, they would not have to.”
“All too often, hard-working people see their career put in jeopardy because of the demands of family. For too many Americans, caring for a newborn child or an ill loved one means giving up a paycheck – or even their job. None of our neighbors, friends, loved ones, or coworkers should ever face that choice,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland), the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. “Congress has the responsibility to provide our workers the support they need to manage the demands of jobs and family. It is time for us to meet that responsibility and pass the FAMILY Act.”
“When my kids were babies, I was able to care for them. As my parents age, I want to be there for them. None of my neighbors in the Hudson Valley should have to struggle to put food on the table while caring for a newborn child or elderly parents. When President Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act over twenty years ago, tens of millions of Americans no longer had to choose between their family or their paycheck, and this long overdue update will ensure all Americans can care for their loved ones,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a former senior advisor to President Clinton.
“Americans shouldn’t have to choose between talking care of their family and earning a paycheck,” said Rep. Eliot Engel. “Far too many New Yorkers have to make the unenviable choice between attending to their family needs and earning a paycheck. No one should be financially penalized for tending to a sick child, spouse or parent.”
“The Family Act will help working moms and dads to be the best parents they can be–but the real winners are the companies who gain employee engagement, productivity and focus,” said Working Mother Media President Carol Evans. “When employees have peace of mind knowing they can take paid time off to care for a new baby, aging parent or medical crisis everyone benefits. It’s way past time for the US to catch up to the rest of the globe on this crucial issue.”
Current Family and Medical Leave law provides unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health related events for only about half of the workforce. The other half don’t qualify for this unpaid leave, and many more simply cannot afford to take it because it is unpaid. In fact, only 12 percent of workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave through their employers, and less than 40 percent of workers have access to personal medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance.
The FAMILY Act would create an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration to collect fees and provide benefits. This trust would be funded by employee and employer contributions of 0.2 percent of wages each, creating a self-sufficient program that would not add to the federal budget. The expected cost to the average worker would be similar to the expense of a cup of coffee a week. Benefit levels, modeled on existing successful state programs in New Jersey and California, would equal 66 percent of an individual’s typical monthly wages up to a capped monthly amount that would be indexed for inflation. The proposal makes leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer and regardless of whether such individual is currently employed by an employer, self-employed or currently unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history.