U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced federal legislation that would create paid family and medical leave. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, ensuring that American workers would no longer have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or a family member.
"When a young parent needs time to care for a newborn child -- it should never come down to an outdated policy that lets her boss decide how long it will take -- and decide the fate of her career and her future along with it. 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," said Senator Gillibrand.
"Our economic system has failed to address the needs of our modern workforce. Senator Gillibrand's insight and commitment to working families is evidenced by the leadership she has demonstrated in introducing the FAMILY Act." said Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-116th District). "This is the type of practical, pro-family economic policy we need our federal representatives to pass. The program this legislation creates will lead to increased economic productivity in the work place and prevent families from having to choose between the health of their family or their job. Until we have Family and Medical Insurance Leave, families will continue to be forced into poverty because they have a sick family member. For our economy to grow and families to prosper we must work together to support the Senator's effort."
"On behalf of the League of Women Voters of the North Country, I welcome Senator Gillibrand warmly to our area as she brings to us all the creative new Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act that she and Senator DeLauro recently introduced. Since 1993, the League of Women Voters has had a position on Health Care advocating access to basic level of care that includes disease prevention, health promotion and education, primary, acute, long-term, and mental health care as well as permitting consumers/patients to purchase services or insurance coverage beyond the basic level. The new Act therefore is consonant with the long-held position of the League of Women Voters, and we in the North Country are grateful for this opportunity to share our feelings with our young senator," said Sally Sears-Mack, President, League of Women Voters (LWV) of the North Country.
"The American Association of University Women applauds Senator Gillibrand for being a true advocate for working families. The stability of the American economy depends on the economic security of our workers. But currently too many workers are forced to choose between their jobs and taking care of themselves or their families. The FAMILY Act would enable all workers to take time off for medical or family reasons without worrying about how they will make ends meet. A paid leave program promotes the health of our nation's workforce, families, and businesses," said Mary Lou Davis AAUW of New York State President.
Current Family and Medical Leave law provides unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health related events for only about half of the workforce. The other half don't qualify for this unpaid leave, and many more simply cannot afford to take it because it is unpaid. In fact, only 12 percent of workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave through their employers, and less than 40 percent of workers have access to personal medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance.
The FAMILY Act would create an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration to collect fees and provide benefits. This trust would be funded by employee and employer contributions of 0.2 percent of wages each, creating a self-sufficient program that would not add to the federal budget. The expected cost to the average worker would be similar to the expense of a cup of coffee a week. Benefit levels, modeled on existing successful state programs in New Jersey and California, would equal 66 percent of an individual's typical monthly wages up to a capped monthly amount that would be indexed for inflation. The proposal makes leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer and regardless of whether such individual is currently employed by an employer, self-employed or currently unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history.