I might be a day late, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recognize the 21st anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that was yesterday. FMLA provides 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave from work to tend to a sick family member or a newborn child. There are many limitations to the companies that have to follow FMLA guidelines which I discuss in my musings about Maternity Leave.
While I have many gripes about what FMLA does not provide, it is important to note that prior to its passing in 1993, a woman’s job was not protected when she had to take time off immediately following the birth of her child! How insane is that?!
21 years later, a very important fact remains: FMLA does not provide any sort of guaranteed compensation for working mothers after the birth of her child, making the United States the only high-income country that does not guarantee a paid leave program for working moms.
Enter The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) introduced by one of my very own senators here in New York, Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). This legislation starts a national insurance fund that both employees and employers pay into that would allow up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave per year. There has been little help on Capitol Hill with support for working families, this legislation finally starts the dialogue.
Support the legislation by taking action. From a mother who does receive 6-8 weeks of paid maternity leave at 66% of my pay, I support every single mother to have this same opportunity.