WASHINGTON DC – Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand yesterday, Feb. 7, 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 Sen.Gillibrand (D-NY), in a statement. “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.”
“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 Sen. 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.”
“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.”
“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, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of University Women (AAUW), American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, American Federation of Teachers, American Pediatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, American Sustainable Business Council , Black Women’s Roundtable, Caring Across Generations, Caring Economy Campaign, Center for American Progress, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Common Sense Kids, Communication Workers of America, Faith in Public Life, Family Equality Council, Family Values @ Work, Human Rights Campaign, Interfaith Worker Justice, Jewish Wome 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, PICO National Network, PL+US, Service Employees International Union, Small Business Majority, United States Breastfeeding Committee, Young Invincibles, YWCA USA, ZERO TO THREE.