On Anniversary of FMLA, Business Leaders Call for Paid Leave

February 04, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Paid family and medical leave makes business sense; that’s the message from business leaders ahead of the 21st anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) tomorrow. As they celebrate the fact that the FMLA has been used by workers over 10 million times, business leaders are also saying it’s time to do more for workers, families, businesses, and the economy. That’s why a growing number are speaking out in support of recently introduced federal legislation, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a nationwide paid family and medical leave insurance program.
 
Leaders from businesses small and large agree that workers should be able to take time to care for sick family members, recover from serious illness, or welcome a new baby without experiencing the economic and family instability that comes with lost wages.
 
Tom Nides, vice chair of Morgan Stanley, said, “A federal law that guarantees all workers paid family and medical leave is critical to supporting our people and economic stability.  I support the FAMILY Act because it is not only good for families and businesses; it also makes economic sense.” 
 
The FAMILY Act, introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Rosa DeLauro, would enable workers to take up to 12 partially paid weeks away from work to recover from serious illness, care for a sick loved one, or bond with a new child.  It would be funded by employee and employer contributions of just two cents each for every $10 in wages. Employees would receive 66 percent of their wages, up to a maximum of $4,000 per month, from the paid leave insurance program.
 
“Paid family and medical leave is crucial to families in our country. We know that more than two-thirds of poor children live in families with at least one worker—and that living in poverty is linked to negative outcomes for both children and adults," said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). "That’s why the FAMILY Act is a common-sense policy that would serve two generations, benefitting children and parents across the country—particularly those living on low-incomes."
 
The FAMILY Act is modeled on paid family leave insurance laws in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Many employers in California, where a law has been implemented since 2004, enthusiastically support a federal program. Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s said: “I supported California’s Paid Family Leave law and I support this national version. If we’re not taking care of our coworkers, we’re not taking care of business.”
 
Evidence from California shows that the vast majority of business owners in the state have experienced no adverse business effects as a result of the state’s PFL law. Like those leaders who support the FAMILY Act, many businesses have reported improved outcomes, such as increased productivity and improved employee morale as a result of the paid family leave program. 
 
In January, Rhode Island became the third state to pass a paid family leave law. Rhode Island State Representative Frank Ferri, who also owns a bowling alley, voiced support for a federal law. “I couldn’t be more committed to getting our economy on track, and I understand the challenges of running a profitable business. As a business owner, I am also committed to supporting my employees. When difficult times arise, I am there for them. The FAMILY Act will help all employers to do the same."
 
To read more from other business leaders in support of the FAMILY Act, visit Better Workplaces, Better Businesses.
 
Read a recent op-ed in support of the FAMILY Act by Morgan Stanley Vice Chair Tom Nides.
 
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CLASP develops and advocates for policies at the federal, state, and local levels that improve the lives of low-income people, with a focus on strengthening families and creating pathways to education and work. Through careful research and analysis and effective advocacy, we foster and promote new ideas, mobilize others, and help advocates and government implement strategies that deliver results for people across America. For more information, visit www.clasp.org and follow @CLASP_DC.
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