Earlier today, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) was introduced for the first time in the Senate by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and the House by Rep. Rosa DeLauro. This bill would provide employees across the country with access to paid family leave to care for their own serious health condition, or that of a child, parent, or spouse, including a domestic partner. Workers would be able to take leave because of illness, pregnancy, birth, childbirth recovery, adoption, and more.
Under the FAMILY Act, employees taking leave to care for themselves or a family member will receive two thirds of their monthly income for up to twelve weeks. Currently, only 1-2 percent of workers have access to this kind of paid leave, which is funded by their employers. To take part in the program, workers will have to individually pay into a federally-run insurance program. Fortunately, premium costs for participants are shared with employers and are incredibly low – about $1.50 a week for the average worker – meaning that all workers, regardless of their salary or employer’s size, should be able to afford enrolling in the program.
Currently, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ensures workers throughout the US have access to unpaid family sick leave to workers. However, only about 40% of workers are eligible for FMLA ‘s unpaid leave due to exemptions for businesses of a certain size. Under the FAMILY Act, all workers would be eligible to apply for paid leave, meaning no employee will have to risk his or her job to care for themselves or a family member in need. This bill is a step toward ensuring that all families have access and the ability to take leave when health emergencies arise.