“U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez’s announcement today that California; New Hampshire; Rhode Island; Tennessee; Vermont; Washington; Montgomery County, Md.; and New York City have been selected to receive one-time, competitive grants totaling $1.55 million to study the feasibility of developing and implementing paid family and medical leave programs is exciting news. This is yet another sign that our nation is finally moving closer to the day when no worker in this country has to choose between job and family when illness strikes or new children arrive.
These grants signal a real commitment from state and local leaders and the U.S. Department of Labor to finding ways to ensure more people have access to the paid leave they need. Today’s announcement also adds to the momentum in support of this common sense policy. The Obama administration has already taken major steps to advance paid leave. Businesses are increasingly establishing or expanding their own policies. And lawmakers and candidates at all levels are talking about the need for paid leave. These grants will support valuable research while helping pave the way for a much-needed national program.
Right now, millions of people are one illness, injury or new child away from financial devastation because they do not have paid leave. Despite increased recognition that Americans need paid family and medical leave and new private sector initiatives, new data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last Friday shows that only a tiny percentage of our workforce — still just 13 percent — has access to paid family leave through their employers and fewer than 40 percent of workers have employer-provided personal medical leave through a temporary disability insurance program. That is shameful, and it is costing our country dearly. We expect the grants announced today to help.
But in the end, what this country needs is the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave program that provides all workers a portion of their wages for up to 12 weeks to address their own or a loved one’s serious health condition or to welcome a new child. It is modeled on successful, self-sustaining state programs that demonstrate the widespread benefits of public paid leave policies. Coupled with the studies made possible by these grants, that body of evidence, the case for the FAMILY Act, and the pressure on Congress to act will grow even stronger.”
About the National Partnership
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.