Celebrating 30 Years of FMLA
Celebrating 30 years of job-protected leave – and working to help even more families.
Drafted by the National Partnership and signed by President Clinton in 1993 (the first bill he signed into law as president), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the nation's first national law designed to help Americans meet the dual demands of work and family.
And it works. America's workers have used the FMLA more than 460 million times to take time off when they need it most, without having to worry about losing their jobs or their health insurance.
The FMLA provides a critical policy framework for meeting families' needs by guaranteeing eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to care for a newborn, a newly adopted child or a seriously ill family member, or to recover from their own serious health conditions, including pregnancy.
Champions of the FMLA: National Partnership Senior Advisor Judy Lichtman, former Rep. Mike Honda, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, former Rep. Connie Morella, former Sen. Chris Dodd, former Rep. Lois Capps, Rep. Tony Cárdenas, Sen. Krysten Sinema, Rep. Rosa DeLauro and former National Partnership president Debra Ness celebrating the 20th anniversary of the FMLA
President Clinton's Remarks at the Signing of the Family Medical Leave Act on February 5, 1993. Courtesy; William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Nearly 15 million workers take FMLA leaves each year
For 30 years, the FMLA has enabled workers to care for themselves and their loved ones without jeopardizing their jobs or economic security. In 2008 and 2009, the law was updated to reflect the caregiving needs of military families. And there have been significant changes in our national culture and the culture of our workplaces as a result.
"In times of family crisis people should not have to worry about keeping their jobs. Other families will not have to face this terrible choice."
— Vicki Yandle at the FMLA bill signing. Vicki and her husband were fired from their jobs for taking time off to care for their teenage daughter, Dixie, who was suffering from cancer. Read more about the Yandle's story.
"I am writing to let you know that two months ago my husband died of congestive heart failure after ... several years of illness. Because your husband signed into law the Family and Medical Leave Act, I was able to transport him to doctor appointments and hospital visits. The act enabled me to keep my job and bring him comfort at the end of his life. I will be eternally grateful."
— Lynne Wade, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., in a letter to former first lady Hillary Clinton in 1998
"To have the conversations with him and to hear his advice for the last time in my life was an invaluable experience for me. ... You can't replace that. Not everyone can do that and I'm really grateful for the time I had... giving back to my parents in terms of caring for them and time together was huge."
— Gwynne, who – thanks to FMLA – was able to care for her father after he received a terminal diagnosis. Read Gwynne's & many others' stories at MomsRising.com.
"In the first year of his life, Josh had 10 surgeries and as many Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) hospitalizations for respiratory and shunt infections. ... Without the protections offered by the FMLA, I cannot say whether Josh would still be with us — which is why I am grateful for the protections it offered us and why I will continue to speak out in support of its policies."
— Debbi Harris, whose son Josh experienced a grade IV brain hemorrhage in utero. Read her story at The Arc.
Share Your FMLA Story
Today the Family & Medical Leave Act turns 30🥳 It is the first–but not the last–national law that helps workers take the time they need without having to choose between their families and livelihood. That's why the FMLA has been used over 460 million times since! #FMLA30
The FMLA provides eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to:
✔️Bond with a new child
✔️Care for a seriously ill or injured spouse, parent, or child
✔️Address their own health condition
All workers deserve these benefits. #FMLA30
The FMLA was introduced in Congress every year from 1984-1993 & was blocked repeatedly. But we kept going and got the job done. Happy #FMLA30 to everyone whose partnerships and advocacy made this possible.
Join others who are sharing their #FMLA30 story
This month, we're celebrating 30 years of the Family and Medical Leave Act by sharing stories from workers.— WHD_DOL (@WHD_DOL) February 1, 2023
Read what #FMLA means to Jerron Brown, in his own words.
▶️ Learn more: https://t.co/owkHB5Ll11
▶️ Follow along: @WHD_DOL
▶️ Join in: #FMLA30 pic.twitter.com/1a7pGkP5ff
“We have paid the price of not having a paid leave program nationally. It’s in the choices between work and family.” Thank you @SenGillibrand for your advocacy and for leading with the choices that families are forced to make. #PaidLeaveforAll #FMLAat30 pic.twitter.com/ZOdD1ccwWI— (((Sammy Chavin-Grant))) (@smchavin) February 1, 2023
As we get ready to mark the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, there’s so much more we can do to ensure more working families can take the leave they deserve when they need it.— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) February 1, 2023
Tune in to find out how I plan to do just that.👀 #FMLA30 https://t.co/dTb2NbchHw
A budget is a moral document, and it is imperative that the administration reaffirm its commitment to a national paid family and medical leave program by including it in its FY2024 budget.” https://t.co/YYddqcSoeV #PaidLeave #FMLA30— Dr. Kate Gallagher Robbins (@kfgrobbins) January 13, 2023
#FMLA30 is coming up. Grateful for how far it has taken us & clear that adopting a national permanent, adequately *paid* sick & family leave policy that covers all workers is not only critical to equity but also feasible & overdue. #NetworkStrong #paidleaveforall— Josephine Kalipeni (@malawian81) January 18, 2023
We've got TWO new releases today in honor of #FMLA30. The first, “Key Facts: The Family and Medical Leave Act” shows us that in the 30 years since it became law, the FMLA has been used over 460 MILLION times! https://t.co/G5gYmfA71M pic.twitter.com/x4K6dvHyEN— National Partnership (@NPWF) February 1, 2023
As we approach the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act it is time to assess progress, identify need, and commit to continuing the fight for #PaidLeaveForAll. #FMLA30— Vicki Shabo (@VShabo) February 1, 2023
Thank you @EmilyRPeck
for this great roundup of progress & chasms.https://t.co/I3GIRrPctZ
"In 2022, among workers who were not protected by FMLA, nearly 2.7 million needed leave but did not take it because they feared losing their job."-- @NPWF for #FMLA30 on why we need #PaidLeaveForAll now! https://t.co/ZYwblbddau— Molly Weston Williamson (@Molly_MWW) February 1, 2023
70% of restaurant workers are left out of the FMLA based on employer size--& many more are excluded because of their hours or how long they have worked for their employer. We need #PaidLeaveForAll. New from @Molly_MWW @CAPWomen for #FMLA30: https://t.co/XrrHWL7i0s— Paid Leave for All (@PaidLeaveforAll) February 1, 2023
Learn more about the FMLA
- Key Facts About the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) | En Español
- A short history of the FMLA
- A detailed history of the FMLA (PDF)
Advance the FMLA’s promise of a family friendly America
The FMLA is a historic piece of legislation that has transformed the lives of working families. But we want to make sure all workers are able to take leave to care for themselves and their families. The National Partnership, joined by a broad-based coalition, is working hard to safeguard this historic law, expand it to cover more workers and promote a national paid leave program.
- Legislative Proposals for Updating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Learn about the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, the leading paid family and medical leave proposal in Congress
- Paid Leave Works: Evidence from State Programs
- Tell Congress to pass a national paid family and medical leave policy