Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today led a group of 27 Senators to reintroduce the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, legislation that would create a universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave program.
The United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program, and only 14 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. Without a national paid family leave program, the U.S. economy loses almost $21 billion a year, women lose $324,000 in wages and retirement benefits over a lifetime, and men lose $284,000. A lack of a national paid leave program hurts businesses; studies show that businesses incur an additional 20 percent cost to recruit and retrain new workers replacing others who left because they did not have paid leave.
The FAMILY Act creates a self-sustaining family insurance program for all workers – young and elderly, single and married, and men and women, regardless of the size of their employer. Modeled after successful state programs, and costing only as much as a cup of coffee per week, the fund would provide up to 66 percent wage-replacement for 12 weeks in the event of a serious personal or family medical emergency.
“The vast majority of working families don’t have access to paid leave, and as a working mom, I understand the urgency of this problem,” said Senator Gillibrand (D-NY). “Every day that goes by without a national paid family leave program, workers will continue to lose income, they’ll continue to lose their jobs, and businesses will continue to lose employees. We need to pass the FAMILY Act and give every working American access to paid leave when they need it.”
“Working families are the backbone of North Dakota communities and our state’s economy – and they shouldn’t face the impossible choice of keeping a job which pays the rent and caring for their loved ones. We can do better – and that’s what this legislation is all about,” said Senator Heitkamp. “Making sure both families and small businesses have the certainty they need to fully dedicate themselves to their work and their families isn’t just a core North Dakota value, it’s just good commonsense – both for hardworking employees and for businesses’ bottom lines. Life happens. Families welcome newborn children, parents and loved ones fall ill and need care – and businesses need to keep running. That’s the reality our bill recognizes.”
“Expanding paid family leave for all Americans – women and men alike – is essential to building stronger families and a stronger economy,” said Senator Duckworth (D-IL). “No one should have to choose between taking a day of leave to care for a sick child or family member and missing a paycheck, or even losing their job. It’s about time we offered hardworking Americans the opportunity to fully support their families at work and at home, and the FAMILY Act would finally make it happen.”
“The United States is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t offer national paid family leave,” said Senator Booker. “Our bill will stop the shortchanging of American workers by finally creating a program that allows hardworking Americans to care for new children, ailing family members, and themselves without fear of losing their income.”
“No one should have to choose between a paycheck that puts food on their table and caring for a loved one. But nearly nine out of every ten American workers will have to make that choice,” Senator Blumenthal said. “By guaranteeing every working American up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, this commonsense bill will help businesses retain employees while allowing Americans to be there for their family.”
“We must do everything we can to reward hard work and improve the incomes of working families,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). “The FAMILY Act is important step forward in building an economy that works for everyone. When families have stronger economic security, we will create stronger growth for our economy.
“Every year, working families in Massachusetts and across our country are be forced to miss work to tend to a family illness, care for a newborn or deal with urgent personal matters,” said Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) But only twelve percent of our workforce has access to paid family leave. I’m proud to work with Senator Gillibrand on this important legislation that puts American workers and families first.”
“Today far too many working families are forced to choose between their paycheck and taking care of themselves or a loved one,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). “Advancing the FAMILY Act would be a critical step toward strengthening and providing greater stability for families, businesses, and our economy.”
“As the only industrialized country without paid parental leave, the United States leaves too many mothers and fathers no choice but to return to work mere days after bringing a new child into their home,” said Senator Van Hollen. “And when they or a family member has a long-term illness, there is no way for workers to take the time they need to recover. We can do better for Marylanders and all Americans who are trying to climb the economic ladder, and this bill is a proven approach to giving workers added economic security when they need it the most.”
“Working women and men deserve the flexibility to care for their children while keeping the job they need to support their families,” said Senator Brown. “Ohioans shouldn’t have to choose between building a family and working – that’s why we need to ensure all workers can access paid family and medical leave no matter their gender or where they work.”
“Working families deserve the flexibility to care for their children without losing a paycheck,” said Senator Klobuchar. “Our legislation will help ensure that no parent needs to make the difficult, but all too common, choice between a paycheck and being able to take care of a sick child, an elderly parent, or get needed medical treatment.”
“Without a national paid leave program, too many Americans must choose between their family responsibilities and their paychecks. This needs to change,” Senator Warren said. “That’s why I’m cosponsoring Senator Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act. This bill is good for families, good for businesses, and good our economy.”
“Paid family leave is critical to our families and our workforce. Too many people in New Mexico and the country have to choose between taking care of their loved ones and taking home a paycheck,” Senator Udall said. “I’m proud to cosponsor the FAMILY Act to bring the United States up to speed with the rest of the world by guaranteeing universal paid family and medical leave. It’s essential that we pass the FAMILY ACT to ensure that parents can care for their families without losing income or their jobs, and that employers can retain their workers and strengthen our economy.”
“Far too many workers are forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for oneself or a family member. This commonsense bill would eliminate that awful choice,” said Senator Menendez. “With New Jersey being a national leader in paid FMLA, I am proud to join my colleagues in the Senate to continue fighting for workers’ rights, health and safety, and their ability to earn a livable wage, have a secure retirement and take care of their loved ones.”
“As lead Democrat on the Employment and Workplace Subcommittee, one of my top priorities is to fight for policies that support American workers and families,” said Sen. Franken. “Right now, people all across the country have to go back to work too soon after an illness, a family emergency, or after the birth of a newborn because there’s no national paid family leave system. That must change. Nobody should have to choose between their health and their job, and this important measure will help ensure that people can care for themselves and their families without putting their livelihoods and bottom lines in jeopardy.”
“Californians should never have to make a choice between going to work or being able to take care of sick children or aging parents. Universal paid family and medical leave will allow workers to have the economic security they need to get ahead and stay ahead,” said Senator Harris.
“The United States is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid time off to care for a new baby or sick family member. That’s why it’s become increasingly difficult for Americans to meet the demands of family and work. California’s paid leave program, which has been in place for nearly 15 years, has been a complete success. It’s helped businesses retain workers and families care for their loved ones. It’s time to create a federal paid-leave program so all families can access the benefits available in my state,” said Senator Feinstein.
“The FAMILY Act is the affordable, comprehensive paid family and medical leave plan the United States needs,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “It is simply unacceptable that millions of Americans work hard every day, yet are one birth, accident or illness away from financial devastation because our public policies fail to provide paid leave. Most other countries and a handful of U.S. states have figured it out, and businesses of all sizes understand the benefits. Lawmakers who claim to value families need to take a hard look at what our nation’s paid leave crisis is costing workers and their families, businesses and the economy and commit to a strong, tested national policy like the FAMILY Act. America’s working families cannot — and will not — settle for less.”
The following organizations have endorsed the FAMILY Act: 1,000 Days, 9to5 – National Association of Working Women, 9to5 California, 9to5 Colorado , 9to5 Georgia 9to5 Wisconsin, A Better Balance, Academic Pediatric Association, American Pediatric Society, American Association of University Women (AAUW), American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), American Federation of Teachers, American Pediatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, American Sustainable Business Council , Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, Black Women’s Roundtable, Caring Across Generations, Caring Economy Campaign, Center for American Progress, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Common Sense Kids Action, Communications Workers of America, Faith in Public Life, Family Equality Council, Family Values @ Work, Human Rights Campaign, Interfaith Worker Justice, Jewish Women International, Labor Project for Working Families, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Main Street Alliance, Make It Work, Mi Familia Vota, MomsRising, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Council of Jewish Women, National Hispanic Council on Aging, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women’s Law Center, NETWORK, Pediatric Policy Council, PICO National Network, PL+US, Society for Pediatric Research, Service Employees International Union, Small Business Majority, United States Breastfeeding Committee, Young Invincibles, YWCA USA, ZERO TO THREE.