National Partnership for Women & Families

On 14th Anniversary, Ness Expresses Alarm About Labor Department Action on Family & Medical Leave Act, Urges Lawmakers to Expand Family Friendly Measures

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — February 5, 2007 —
"Fourteen years ago today, President Clinton signed the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) into law. In the years since it took effect on August 3, 1993, more than 50 million people have taken job-protected time off to care for their loved ones or to recover from their own serious illnesses. The FMLA has transformed America’s workplaces and raised awareness about the importance of family-friendly measures. It has been good for women, good for families, good for businesses, good for our economy and good for our country.

The FMLA was an important first step, but only a first step. Americans are looking to the new Congress to expand the Family & Medical Leave Act, adopt paid leave nationwide, and pass the Healthy Families Act to give all workers paid sick days.

And they are looking to the Administration to protect our precious FMLA protections. But a cloud hangs over our heads. On November 30th, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a Request for Information on the FMLA. It alarmed all of us who want to see America’s workplaces become more family-friendly and individuals be productive workers and responsible family members. Comments are due on February 16. The National Partnership and hundreds of other groups representing children, seniors, people with disabilities and illnesses, plus religious and business organizations and individuals will urge the Department not to restrict FMLA protections. But we do not know what the Administration will do.

The United States is already far behind the rest of the world in adopting programs and policies that ensure that workers do not have to choose between their work and family obligations. We need lawmakers to advance laws and programs that are family friendly, not restrict the gains of the past.”

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at

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