Two Legislators Propose Paid Leave for Family and Medical Reasons

Currently only 12 percent of employees have access to paid family leave through their employer.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) speaks at a news conference supporting passage of the Military Justice Improvement Act November 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. The legislation would help address increasing numbers of sexual assaults in the U.S. military by establishing an independent military justice system. Also pictured are (L-R) Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-NY), former U.S. Marine Sarah Plummer, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and U.S. Army veteran Kate Weber.
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Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Dec. 12, 2013, 1:59 p.m.

Sen. Kirsten Gil­librand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Rosa De­Lauro, D-Conn., on Thursday an­nounced an ef­fort to ex­tend paid fam­ily and med­ic­al leave to em­ploy­ees.

The so-called Fam­ily (Fam­ily and Med­ic­al In­sur­ance Leave) Act would cre­ate a na­tion­al in­sur­ance pro­gram through the So­cial Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion to col­lect fees and dis­trib­ute be­ne­fits. Em­ploy­ees and em­ploy­ers would con­trib­ute 0.2 per­cent of in­come to the fund, which Gil­librand and De­Lauro equate to “the ex­pense of a cup of cof­fee” each week.

“When a young par­ent needs time to care for a new­born child — it should nev­er come down to an out­dated policy that lets her boss de­cide how long it will take — and de­cide the fate of her ca­reer and her fu­ture along with it,” Gil­librand said in a press re­lease. “When any one of us — man or wo­man — needs time to care for a dy­ing par­ent — we should not have to sac­ri­fice our job and risk our fu­ture to do the right thing for our fam­ily. Choos­ing between your loved ones and your ca­reer and your fu­ture is a choice no one should have to make.”

Gil­librand and De­Lauro’s pro­pos­al in part ad­dresses a long-held cri­ti­cism of the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Fam­ily and Med­ic­al Leave Act of 1993, which provides up to 12 weeks of un­paid, job-pro­tec­ted leave in the event of per­son­al or fam­ily ill­ness, death, ad­op­tion, and preg­nancy. Only 12 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans have ac­cess to em­ploy­er-provided, job-pro­tec­ted paid leave, and tak­ing time off can be more fin­an­cially bur­den­some for hourly-wage work­ers than salar­ied em­ploy­ees.

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