On the 15th anniversary of this historic law the first national policy to help workers meet the dual demands of work and family and with the U.S. Department of Labor advancing regulations that could scale back its protections, the new campaign is designed to mobilize the tens of millions of Americans who have been able to take unpaid job-protected leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, seriously ill family member, or to recover from illness.
“The FMLA has made a huge difference to millions of workers and their families,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “By sharing their stories, we will build a collective voice so powerful that we can finally break the impasse and convince lawmakers to expand the law so more workers can take leave for more reasons, and those who can’t afford to miss a paycheck can take the leave they need. The FMLA is the greatest family-friendly advance our nation has seen, but it was only a beginning. After 15 years, it’s time to take the next step.”
The law guarantees eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year, but nearly 40 percent of workers are not eligible for FMLA leave because they work for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, or because they are part-time and new employees. In addition, the FMLA does not provide job protection for some family responsibilities such as parent-teacher conferences or driving an elderly parent to the doctor.
As the year goes on, Ness said, moms and dads who stayed home with babies, adult children who cared for gravely ill parents, men who took leave to recover from heart attacks and women from mastectomies, and parents who missed work to care for children fighting leukemia will share their stories and talk about the difference the law has made in their lives.
The National Partnership for Women & Families drafted and led the fight for the Family and Medical Leave Act. The organization 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 www.NationalPartnership.org.