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Posts Tagged ‘Family and Medical Leave Act’

20 Years Ago, America Became a More Family Friendly Nation – And we Must Do It Again

Posted by YWM on February 15, 2013

debra nessDebra Ness, President, National Partnership

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post

February 5, marked a historic and celebratory moment in our nation’s history.

Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton signed into law the very first bill of his administration, and its first word is “family.” Since then, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has enabled millions of mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and sons and daughters to get and provide critical care without risking their jobs or health insurance protections. It has provided job-protected, unpaid leave for moms and dads to care for babies, adult children to care for ailing older parents, workers to recover from serious illness, and much more.

At the National Partnership — then the Women’s Legal Defense Fund — the signing of the FMLA was the culmination of years of leadership and hard work drafting, coalition building, advocating, communicating, occasionally compromising and, most importantly, never giving up on our vision for a more family-friendly America.

“Groundbreaking” is a word that’s thrown around a lot, but this victory truly was. The FMLA is the first national law ever to help Americans manage the dual demands of work and family. It was made possible by a broad coalition of 200 diverse groups and by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who knew it was time to start changing the culture in this country.

And we prevailed, for the good of the nation.

Today, 20 years later, the FMLA has been used more than 100 million times. Many Americans take for granted that working people have access to job-protected, unpaid leave when serious medical needs arise — a testament to the great success of the law. For an entire generation, taking leave under the FMLA has been a fundamental, unquestioned right.

The tremendous impact of the FMLA on people’s lives and the culture of the nation are real reasons for us all to celebrate. But this anniversary is also a stark reminder of how long it has been since lawmakers have come together to prioritize the needs of America’s working families. And data from the Department of Labor (DOL), released just yesterday, make painfully clear the urgency for further progress.

According to the DOL’s first survey of the FMLA in 13 years, 40 percent of the workforce is not covered by the FMLA’s protections. And the inability to afford to take unpaid leave is the most common reason workers who are covered by the law say they didn’t take leave when they needed it. (A more detailed analysis of the DOL’s findings can be found here.)

These gaps are the result of dramatic changes in our workforce in the past two decades, and the fact that the FMLA was meant to be just a first step on the road to a family-friendly America. Twenty years later, the country has yet to take the next step. And the bipartisanship and commitment to a better country for working people that made FMLA possible seems a distant and fading memory.

Fortunately, there is hope. More and more lawmakers and others recognize family-friendly policies as essential to families’ economic security, to the success of businesses, and to restoring the vitality of our nation’s economy.

The American public recognizes this as well. There are significant opportunities for progress on the horizon, and a growing body of research that shows that Americans, across demographic and party lines, want — and urgently need — Congress to move the country forward. In fact, according to recent polling, the overwhelming majority of Americans say they struggle to manage work and family obligations. Eighty-six percent say Congress should consider new laws that would help, like a paid family and medical leave insurance program.

Paid leave policies benefit working families, businesses and our national economy. They keep people working, level the playing field for businesses, reduce reliance on public assistance and much, much more. Paid leave policies are win-win-win, and it is time for members of Congress to make the introduction and passage of a national standard a top priority.

Twenty years ago, America became a more family friendly nation. We can — and must — do it again.

You can find out more about the FMLA, its history, and the need for next steps at www.NationalPartnership.org/FMLA.

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Posted in Families, Financial Security, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Poll Shows Bipartisan Voter Mandate for Family Friendly Workplace Policies

Posted by sherrysaunders on December 5, 2012

national partnership

By the National Partnership for Women & Families

Following a divisive election, new poll results released by the National Partnership for Women & Families reveal that the nation’s voters are united in their support for making the nation’s workplaces more family friendly. Across party and demographic lines, an overwhelming majority of those surveyed said they struggle to manage their work and family responsibilities — and that they think it is important for Congress and the president to consider policies that would help, such as paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance.

“America’s working families are being forced to make impossible choices between the well-being of their families and their financial security every day because our nation’s workplace policies are badly out of sync with the needs of today’s workers and families,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “These new survey data clearly show that no matter which candidate voters supported for president this election, they are feeling the pressure of out-of-date workplace policies, and they want action to fix them.”

The bipartisan poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group, found that 86 percent of voters nationwide said it is important for Congress and the president to consider new laws like paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance to help keep families financially secure. Nearly two-thirds said it is “very important.” Other key findings include:

  • Strong support across party lines: 73 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of independents and 96 percent of Democrats said congressional and presidential attention to family friendly policies is important.
  • Latinos, African Americans, women and young people — the very voter groups much talked about for their impact this election — felt strongest about the importance of congressional and presidential action: 79 percent of Latinos, 77 percent of African Americans, 69 percent of women and 68 percent of people under 30 considered it “very important.”
  • There is a near universal experience of struggle and hardship in trying to meet work, family and personal responsibilities: Nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) said they experience these challenges at least somewhat often, and nearly four in 10 said they experience conflict “all the time” or “very often.”
  • Similarly, nearly three-quarters of voters (72 percent) said they and their families would be likely to face significant financial hardships if they had a serious illness, had to care for a family member with a serious illness, or had a new child.

“There is near universal agreement among voters of all political parties that balancing work, family and personal responsibilities is a challenge,” said Brian Nienaber, vice president at The Tarrance Group. “Voters also strongly agree that a major life altering event like a new child or a seriously ill relative would cause them significant financial hardships.”

“This poll shows that voters want and need family friendly policies that help protect their economic security when illness strikes or babies are born,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “Across the board, voters are struggling to manage their responsibilities on the job and at home, they are worried about the financial impact of major health events, and they want lawmakers to adopt policies that will help. The support for paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance is strong and broad-based.”

The Healthy Families Act, which was introduced this Congress, would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care or provide care for a sick family member. It currently has 118 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 18 cosponsors in the Senate.

Members of Congress are also expected to work on a national family and medical leave insurance proposal that would create a federal insurance-based system to provide up to 60 days of partially-paid time off to workers to address their own serious health conditions, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or care for a newborn, newly adopted child or newly placed foster child.

“This new poll adds to an overwhelming body of evidence showing that the public strongly supports common sense, family friendly workplace policies,” said Vicki Shabo, director of work and family programs at the National Partnership. “It’s time for Congress to focus on the real challenges facing real people in this country and prioritize passage of modest, reasonable proposals like the Healthy Families Act and a national paid family and medical leave insurance program that would go a long way toward protecting the health and economic stability of our families while also strengthening our economy.”

The survey of 1,220 adults who indicated they had already voted or were likely to vote was conducted by telephone from November 4 to November 6, 2012. The sample included both landlines and mobile phones. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The topline results of the poll can be found here: www.NationalPartnership.org/ElectionPoll

Posted in Economy, Families, Research, Successful Workplaces, Uncategorized, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Small Rant

Posted by egehl on August 12, 2009

Last week I learned that my organization, which employs about 25 people, has removed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) from the personnel policy.  The decision to remove FMLA from the employee handbook was because under law FMLA is not applicable to organizations with less than 50 employees.  For years I lobbied on behalf of FMLA and other work-life balance issues such as paid sick leave, paid FMLA, and even expanding FMLA so that small employers with 50 or less employees could be covered—now I know why! 200249426-001

FMLA requires employers to provide up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave annually to any employee for any serious medical condition of the employee or a member of the employee’s immediate family, or for the birth or adoption of a child.  FMLA is the only fall back employees have to keep their job when they desperately need time off. Especially now when so many people are losing their jobs, most people would fear taking any amount of time off without knowing they are protected.  Therefore if a small employer does not recognize or support FMLA, employees would rather continue working than risk losing their job even though their situation may call for them to leave work.

Our country is so far behind when it comes to policies that support families and those employees that work for small employers are especially vulnerable.  Employers must be mindful that offering basic work-life benefits like FMLA will save them money in the long run by keeping valuable employees that might leave otherwise.  Not offering FMLA will cost an employer more and could impact the bottom line if their employee retention is impacted.  I recognize that employers are feeing the pinch due to the recession but cutting back on work-life policies is not the answer. Ironically the stress on families has exponentially increased so the need to take that time off is more important than ever.

I am not in a stage in life to have a newborn anytime soon, but I could get sick or my mother could sick and then what would happen?  My hope is that my supervisor would be sympathetic and supportive but I shouldn’t have to hope.  I want to feel a solid form of protection so that when I need a foundation to fall back on I know it’s there.

Now I have a much clearer understanding about the significance of advocating for work-life related issues and how it impacts families, and provides them with a basic sense of security.

Posted in Advocacy, Successful Workplaces, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »