WASHINGTON — Feminist Majority today celebrates and applauds Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for introducing the critically-needed paid family medical leave legislation.

The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) will allow workers to take paid time off to address a serious illness of their own, a spouse, parent or child or to care for a new baby or adopted child. If passed, employees can earn up to 12 weeks of paid family leave each year through the creation of a national insurance fund. Both employers and employees would contribute to the fund, which would be administered through a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave within the Social Security Administration.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

The United States passed unpaid family medical leave in 1993 through the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows employees to take up to 12 weeks off to care for themselves or new children, or critically ill spouses, parents or children. However, it only covers employees who have worked for the same employer for at least one year and who worked 1,250 hours the previous year. Additionally, only employees in organizations of 50 or more employees are covered — meaning that 40 percent of workers in the United States have no job-guaranteed leave.

“The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t provide paid maternity leave and we are grossly lagging behind other countries in paid employee and family leave,” said Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority president. “When a medical emergency strikes or when a child is born or adopted, women are the ones most likely to leave the workplace – and their paychecks – to provide care at home. Loss of their incomes just when it is needed the most can be devastating. No one should have to risk financial insecurity to care for a loved one or themselves in such circumstances.”

Feminist Majority launched an online action today, allowing constituents to directly contact their senators and representatives and urge them to support the Family Act.