Work/Family Leader Urges Speedy Passage of FIRST Act
Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — May 8, 2009 —
“Introduced Thursday in the House of Representatives, the FIRST (Family Income to Respond to Significant Transitions) Act is badly needed legislation that positions the federal government to play precisely the role it should, allowing states to implement innovations that will help workers meet the dual demands of job and family, make businesses run more efficiently, and strengthen our economy.
At a time when only California and New Jersey provide workers with paid family and medical leave, this bill would make available grants to states to develop and implement paid family leave programs. It would give states the flexibility to develop these programs based on the needs of working families in the state.
The short-term, limited support this bill would provide can make a big difference in helping states implement paid family leave for workers. It would authorize $1.5 billion for states to use to seed new programs or bolster existing paid leave programs, or for incentives to small businesses to provide job protection to employees who need leave.
It’s time. Passed 16 years ago, the Family & Medical Leave Act was a crucial advance, but millions of workers cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides. With the economy in deep trouble and the unemployment skyrocketing, now more than ever we need to help workers keep their jobs if they need family leave. We applaud Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey for championing this legislation, and urge both the House and Senate to move quickly to pass it.”
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 www.NationalPartnership.org.