National Partnership for Women & Families

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From the desk of ... Debra L. Ness

On its 21st Anniversary, a New Guide to the FMLA

Twenty-one years ago today, the nation’s first – and only – federal law designed to help people manage the dual demands of work and family took effect. Since then, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has transformed the culture of America’s workplaces and provided invaluable support to millions of mothers, fathers, spouses and children who needed time away from work to recover from serious illnesses, welcome new babies, or care for an ill or injured family member.

To mark this important anniversary today, the National Partnership for Women & Families released the seventh edition of our guide to the FMLA and the protections it provides. The guide, which is available in both English and Spanish, is a comprehensive explanation of the FMLA that we hope will make the law more accessible and help people navigate its protections and the adjustments made to it over the years.

Want to know if you’re eligible to take leave under the FMLA for yourself or a loved one? Need to know how much notice or what medical certification you’re required to provide your employer? Wondering what happens to your health insurance if you take FMLA leave? Or what to do if you think your FMLA rights have been violated? Look no further than our new guide.

As the organization that drafted and led the fight for the FMLA, the National Partnership is proud that, since this day 21 years ago, the law has been used more than 100 million times by women and men across the country who were able to take unpaid, job-protected leave when they needed it most. But we are also well aware that about 40 percent of the workforce still isn’t covered by the FMLA’s protections, and even those who are eligible too often cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides.

That’s why we have long advocated for an expansion of the FMLA to cover more workers who need leave for more reasons. And it’s why we’re convening a national coalition of more than 430 groups that is pushing for the federal Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program similar to those working well in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

The FMLA was a major step toward a family friendly America more than two decades ago, but it was always meant to be just a first step. Today’s anniversary is a stark reminder that it is past time for Congress to take the next one by passing the FAMILY Act and ensuring that no one in this country has to lose a paycheck or a job because they have a baby, get seriously ill or have a loved one who needs care.

Our 2014 Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is available in English and Spanish at: www.NationalPartnership.org/FMLAGuide and www.NationalPartnership.org/GuiadelaFMLA.


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