Sick Days and Family Medical Leave
The nation has entered an exciting new era that will allow millions of lower-wage workers to access health care insurance. Tragically, many of these workers will be unable to take advantage of this historic new benefit because they cannot take time off of work to get the care they need due to lack of earned sick days. With no job protections or paid sick leave, these workers face impossible choices between taking time to access healthcare for themselves or their loved ones and potentially losing wages or even their jobs.
At the same time, the nation is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an historic act that allowed many workers time to care for themselves or their loved ones. However, many workers are unable to take advantage of this policy, which guarantees only unpaid leave, because they cannot afford to take to with family without pay. Many more remain ineligible for even unpaid leave, because their employer is exempt from the policy or they have insufficient tenure in their job.
As part of its work life and job quality work, CLASP advocates for state and federal earned sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance policies that will prevent more workers from being denied the time to tend to their own or a family member's health, or care for a new child. Across the country, campaigns to secure these workplace protections for all workers are gaining momentum.
Feb 5, 2016 | PERMALINK »
On FMLA Anniversary, Bill Clinton’s Words Ring More True Than Ever
Someday soon, America’s president could sign the proposed Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act into law. On that momentous occasion, he or she would be well served to echo the words of President Bill Clinton. Twenty-three years ago, upon signing the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Clinton said: “Currently, the United States is virtually the only advanced industrialized country without a national family and medical leave policy. Now, with the signing of this bill, American workers in all 50 States will enjoy the same rights as workers in other nations."
FMLA, which granted some workers access to unpaid, job-protected leave, brought the U.S. closer to other developed countries. Since its passage, workers have taken more than 100 million FMLA leaves. Unfortunately, the majority of U.S. workers are still waiting for paid leave, in contrast to those in other countries. Indeed, the U.S. is the only developed country that fails to provide paid maternity leave.
The FAMILY Act would provide workers up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, enabling them to draw on an insurance pool funded through small employee and employer payroll contributions. With this landmark legislation, Americans would truly “catch up” to workers across the world—fulfilling the promise of Clinton’s speech more than two decades later.
There is vast public support for paid family and medical leave from Americans of both major political parties. In fact, new polling just released this week shows yet again that majorities of both Democrats and Republicans see updating the nation’s family and medical leave law to include paid leave as important. Yet, even with this strong support, and despite considerable data to the contrary, some groups claim that paid family and medical leave insurance will burden employers.
Just in time for FMLA’s anniversary, we have new evidence that paid family leave is, put simply, no big deal for employers. A new study of Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) program—one of three statewide paid family leave programs, along with California’s and New Jersey’s—reveals virtually no negative effects on employers’ productivity or employees’ morale and attendance. Moreover, a majority of employers expressed support for the program when surveyed one year after launch. In both Rhode Island and California, paid leave has been a relative non-event. In fact, evidence is mounting that these policies actually benefit employers, a reality apparent to small businesses owners, who have expressed strong support in nationwide polling.
As President Clinton said in 1993, “it is only when workers can count on a commitment from their employer that they can make their own full commitments to their jobs. We must extend the success of those forward-looking workplaces where high-performance teamwork has already begun to take root and where family and medical leave already is accepted.”
Testimonials from employers around the country speak to the benefits of paid leave policies. Dan Teran, CEO of Managed By Q, a fast growing “smart office management” startup that has gone from 2 to more than 500 employees in under 2 years, explained: “We support the federal bill, the FAMILY Act, which would enable workers across the country to use family and medical leave insurance and support employers like us, who want to do the right thing but may not be able to bear the full cost of paid leave. At Managed By Q, we believe our business will grow precisely because we put our workers first—and we think the same is true for the economy more broadly.”
The time has come to put U.S. workers on equal footing with their global counterparts—supporting work/life balance while giving businesses a boost. With a strong business case for paid leave and support from a growing list of high-road employers, Congress has every reason to pass the FAMILY Act. Perhaps one day soon, our president will stand in the Rose Garden and proudly echo President Clinton’s enduring words.
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Feb 03, 2016 Don’t be Fooled: Paid Sick Time Laws Don’t Cost Jobs
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Jan 29, 2016 The Healthy Families Act: A Fact Sheet for Businesses
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Jan 29, 2016 The Healthy Families Act: A Detailed Review for Businesses
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Jan 29, 2016 The Business Benefits of Paid Sick Time
- Felicia J. Onuma | Apr 15, 2015 One year later, the results of Jersey City’s Earned Sick Days law are promising
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Jan 28, 2016 The Healthy Families Act: A Detailed Review for Businesses
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Jan 28, 2016 The Business Benefits of Paid Sick Time
- Sep 02, 2015 Getting Down to Business: News on Employers, Paid Leave and Job Scheduling September 2015
- Liz Ben Ishai and Alex Wang | May 12, 2015 Paid Leave Necessary for an Ounce of Prevention: Paid Leave and Access to Preventive Health Care
- Kisha Bird, Anna Cielinski, Judy Mortrude, and David Socolow | Apr 17, 2015 Promoting Economic and Career Success for Low-Income Youth and Adults: A Preview of Key Provisions in the Proposed WIOA Regulations