FAMILY Act Supports Low-Wage Workers and Their Families

What is the FAMILY Act?

The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (S. 463/H.R. 1185) would establish a federal program giving almost every worker up to 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, or treat their own serious illness.

Why do we need a national paid leave law?

  • The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid, job protected leave to certain employees.
  • FMLA hasn’t helped workers earning low wages. They can’t afford to take unpaid leave. Many aren’t even eligible. As a result, they can be fired for taking time off and fall into poverty.
  • Workers earning low wages are disproportionately women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, and sole breadwinners. Every day we go without national paid leave, economic inequality becomes more entrenched.

How would the FAMILY Act work?

  • Create an insurance program funded by modest contributions from employers and employees (0.2% of wages).
  • Pay up to 66 percent of employees’ monthly wages, capped at $4,000 per month in the first year.
  • Require participation from all employers— regardless of their industry or how many people they employ.
  • Prohibit employers from ring or discriminating against employees who use or intend to use family and medical leave inusrance benefits.

The FAMILY Act acknowledges diverse families by including elders and same-sex families.

The FAMILY Act would cover children, spouses, domestic partners, and parents.

  • The FAMILY Act would help families meet their needs at home while protecting workers, sustaining wages, and keeping more women in the workforce. The law would also prevent middleand low-income families from sliding into poverty.
  • The FAMILY Act would promote retention, decrease training costs, and increase employee satisfaction and productivity. It would also level the playing eld for businesses.
  • The FAMILY Act would allow small businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford it to offer paid leave and compete for the best workers. Businesses already offering paid leave will see helpful cost savings. Seventy-five percent of small businesses support federal paid leave.
  • Nine states and D.C. have paid family and medical leave laws in the absence of federal action. 
  • 85 percent of people support paid leave to deal with a serious health condition
  • 82 percent of people support paid maternity leave
  • 69 percent of people support paid paternity leave
  • 67 percent of people support paid family care leave

With overwhelming support for paid leave, now is the time to make the FAMILY Act federal law

Photo credits: Shutterstock | daraanja, Leremy, sverhinsky, vinnstock, Monkey Business Images, GOLFX, Vitalinka,

Originally posted Sept. 2018, updated Jan. 2021.