Newburgh, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney today announced federal 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.
“When a young parent needs time to care for a newborn child – it should never come down to an outdated policy that lets her boss decide how long it will take – and decide the fate of her career and her future along with it.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.
“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.
“The Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center values Senator Gillibrand’s innovative and broad-based approach toward developing programs that nurture families,” said Linda Muller, President and CEO, Greater Hudson Valley Health Center. “Her inspiring commitment toward building bipartisan consensus by considering the interests of all stakeholders while developing legislation that seeks to strengthen our communities, one family at a time, has repeatedly demonstrated her strength as a forceful and visionary advocate. In receiving the Senator at our health center, we embrace a leader who shares our core belief that health care is a right and not a privilege. I am proud to welcome her to Orange County’s and Newburgh’s Family Health Center.”
“Paid Family Medical Leave will ease the burden of so many employees that struggle to keep up financially at times when life has already brought an abundance of stress,” said Pamela Spieler, Vice President, Human Resources, Walden Savings Bank. “Whether it is working mothers who will be able to better respond to their family needs, or a worker that who requires time for their own significant health needs, The Family Act will create a better and more productive workforce…one that will make them feel safe and supported during a health related crisis.”
“With working moms now in the majority of households, workplace policies that support our dual roles as caregivers and professionals are essential to economic stability,” said Christine Sadowski, Executive Director, YWCA of Orange County and Chair of the NY State YWCAs. “Senator Gillibrand’s leadership on issues such as paid family and medical leave illustrate how tirelessly she advocates for women and their families. YWCAs throughout New York State look forward to working with her to get these policies implemented.”
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.