Organization That Wrote, Championed FMLA Urges Lawmakers to Expand It
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The first federal study in 13 years to examine the impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) finds that the law has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on workers, families and businesses. The FMLA is the only federal law ever to help workers meet the dual demands of job and family. The National Partnership for Women & Families wrote and championed the FMLA, and has led efforts to defend and expand it in states and at the federal level. The organization today hailed the results of the new Department of Labor study, Family and Medical Leave in 2012, and urged Congress to expand the law and to adopt a national paid family and medical leave program.
Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the day President Bill Clinton made the FMLA the first legislation he signed into law. The FMLA allows eligible workers up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to recover from serious medical conditions, care for a family member, or bond with a new child. Workers have used FMLA leave more than 100 million times. Since 2008, the law has allowed military families to care for injured service members for up to 26 weeks and to address certain circumstances arising from a service member's deployment.
The Labor Department study, released this morning, interviewed more than 2,800 adults nationwide. It found that 16 percent of workers took FMLA leave within the last year, businesses have few problems implementing the law, and inability to afford unpaid leave is the primary reason workers do not take the FMLA leave they need.
"We intended the FMLA to be the first step on the road to a family friendly nation," said National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. "It's had an enormous impact, letting tens of millions of workers take leave when they needed it the most, and changing the culture in this country. Those are women who needed medical care during difficult pregnancies, fathers who took time to care for children fighting cancer, adult sons and daughters caring for frail parents, and workers taking time to recover from their own serious illnesses. Because of the FMLA, their health insurance continued and their jobs were waiting when they returned to work. The law has been a huge success but it's time – past time – to take the next step. We are asking Congress to expand the law so more workers can take leave for more reasons, and to adopt a national paid family and medical leave program."
Key findings from the new Department of Labor study, available here reveal:
The FMLA applies only to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius and people who have worked at their current employer for at least one year and 1,250 hours within the past year. The definition of "family" under the law is narrow; FMLA leave is not available to caregivers of parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, domestic partners or same-sex spouses. The FMLA does not provide leave for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault of stalking. And it does not provide any wages during periods of leave.
"This new study from the Department of Labor makes a compelling case to expand the law and adopt a paid leave plan," Ness added. In particular:
Paid family leave programs are working well in California and New Jersey, but such a program has not been adopted at the federal level.
The National Partnership will host a congressional reception with current and retired lawmakers who are champions of family leave today, Monday, at 5:00pm in the Capitol Visitor Center.
The National Partnership for Women & Families, based in Washington, D.C., drafted and led the fight to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act. The organization promotes fairness in the workplace, access to quality affordable health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.
SOURCE National Partnership for Women & Families