August 5th, 2013 marks the 20-year anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act – the nation’s first law guaranteeing most workers job-protected unpaid leave for certain medical or family emergencies. This week our blog will focus on the importance of family and medical leave programs and the need to pass the next generation of family and medical leave protections.
Until 1993, most American workers were on their own when they welcomed a new baby or faced a personal or family health crisis. But on August 5, 1993 – 20 years ago today – the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) took effect. The FMLA guarantees many employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child or for serious health conditions.
We celebrate that the FMLA has helped millions of workers – but recognize that it falls far short for today’s families and economy.
The FMLA does not provide pay or cover common illnesses like the flu. It also does not protect workers in companies with fewer than 50 employees, who have been on the job less than a full year, average fewer than 25 hours of work per week, or care for loved ones not included in the definition of “family.”
EOI and the Washington Work and Family Coalition are working to fill the gaps with Paid Sick Days and Family and Medical Leave Insurance. During the 2013 legislative session, our bills were approved by the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee, but with a sharply divided legislature, didn’t make it through the full process.
Without this next generation of protections, mothers like Heidi are going back to work before recovering from childbirth, and workers like Evelin’s father are postponing needed surgery. Paid Sick Days and Family and Medical Leave Insurance are smart investments in public health, our youngest children, independent living for seniors, worker productivity, family economic security, and business prosperity.
It’s time to demand action from our lawmakers!
Take a few moments now to celebrate FMLA’s 20-year anniversary and demand the next generation of policy advances we need in today’s economy. In 5 minutes you can:
- Submit a letter to the editor to your local newspaper (no more than 200 words), or
- Contact your state legislator (Legislative Hotline: 1.800.562.6000)
Here’s what to say:
- Tell why paid leave is important to you: How has access or lack of access to paid time off impacted your family?
- Share the facts: All workers need access to paid leave. Paid Sick Days and Family and Medical Leave Insurance are smart investments in public health, our youngest children, independent living for seniors, worker productivity, family economic security, and business prosperity.
- Demand action from your legislators, community leaders and neighbors: City Councils can follow the lead of 5 other cities in adopting paid sick days standards. And our state legislature must be prepared to act in 2014, to fully implement Family and Medical Leave Insurance and establish Paid Sick Days standards for Washington.
It’s time for lawmakers to step up for working families!