Senator Gillibrand emphasizes the importance of paid leave.
2015 represents the 22nd year of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a momentous piece of federal legislation that secured the right of working Americans to take up to 12 weeks off of work for the birth of their child, to care for their newborn, to care for a loved one with a serious illness, or to respond to their own serious illness Unlike the current gridlock in Washington, passage of the FMLA represented a consensus that hard working individuals should not lose their jobs if they become seriously ill and new mothers should be given time to recover from pregnancy and bond with their new child. However, 22 years later, the law has not moved forward. Workers are still not guaranteed any wage replacement when on medical leave, and over 40% of American’s do not qualify for leave under the FMLA at all. The United States remains the only developed nation and one of just 2 worldwide which does not offer paid maternity leave for new mothers.
For working families who are living paycheck to paycheck, lack of access to paid family leave policies can have dramatic effects. Under the FMLA, those without paid medical leave are 39% more likely to end up on public assistance than those with paid leave. While only 13% of private workers have access to paid time off, 93% of women who make use of paid paternity leave are back at work 9-12 months following birth, and 69% of those who returned from paid time off to the same employer saw no change in pay or hours worked. Medical Leave Insurance is a common sense policy that helps to reduce worker turnover, increase productivity, and maintain institutional knowledge.