U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and 27 of her Democratic colleagues have reintroduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act.
The legislation would create a universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave program.
“Today far too many working families are forced to choose between their paycheck and taking care of themselves or a loved one,” Murray said. “I’m proud that Washington state is leading the way on paid leave, and advancing the FAMILY Act would be a critical step toward strengthening and providing greater stability nationwide for families, businesses, and our economy.”
Officials said the legislation would also make a self-sustaining family insurance program for all workers – including the young and elderly, single and married, and men and women, regardless of the size of their employer. The fund, modeled after successful state programs, would provide up to 66 percent wage-replacement for 12 weeks in the event of a serious personal or family medical emergency.
“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,” Ness said. “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.”
According to Murray’s office, the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program, and just 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, while men lose $284,000.
Officials said a lack of a national paid leave program hurts businesses, and pointed to studies that show businesses incur an additional 20 percent cost to recruit and retrain new workers replacing others who left because they did not have paid leave.
Multiple organizations have endorsed the FAMILY Act, including: 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 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, PICO National Network, PL+US, Service Employees International Union, Small Business Majority, United States Breastfeeding Committee, Young Invincibles, YWCA USA, ZERO TO THREE.