Passing Paid Leave Just Got One Step Closer 

Today we took one step closer toward our goal of passing paid family leave, after Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) along with US Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn., Richie Neal (D-Mass), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.), and Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), announced a raft of new proposals to establish a national paid family and medical leave program and modernize the current Family and Medical Leave Act. 

With one in four American women compelled to go back to work within two weeks of giving birth—despite often not being fully healed and having to care for a newborn with round-the-clock needs—this legislation couldn’t be more urgent. The US is one of only six countries in the world without a national paid leave policy; 189 others, including those less developed, offer families time off to care for a newborn or family members in need. 

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Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, during which they announced the proposals, Senator Gillibrand said: “We have paid the price of not having a national paid leave program. It’s the price of people having to make that heart-wrenching decision of ‘Do I sit by my mother’s side as she’s dying, or do I get a paycheck to feed my children? Do I stay with my special-needs infant who has been born prematurely while she’s struggling for her life—day in day out—or do I stay in my job and make sure that I have enough money to feed that child and buy her diapers and buy her formula?’ It’s heartbreaking.”

The launch came just days ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows people to take up to 12 weeks off work without losing their job, to recover from serious illness, or to care for a newborn, an adoptive child, or a family member with serious illness. It was groundbreaking when it launched in 1993, as for the first time it offered women job protection after having a baby—hard as it is to comprehend, before FMLA women could get fired or be replaced if they chose to have a family. 


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