Proposed Federal Paid Family Leave Legislation Takes Key Lessons From California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 12, 2013

Contact:

ANASTASIA ORDONEZ
media@thenextgeneration.org
415-523-8017

Proposed Federal Paid Family Leave Legislation Takes Key Lessons From California

First State to Pass Employee-Funded Program Has Experienced Benefits
to Employees, Communities and Economy

For California stories, visit: paidfamilyleave.org

San Francisco, CA –In a landmark moment, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced federal legislation that would establish a national paid family leave program. Titled the “Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act”, or FAMILY Act, this proposed law would allow eligible workers to receive a portion of their pay when they need time away from their jobs to bond with a new child, to care for a seriously ill family member or for their own serious health condition.

The FAMILY Act is similar in design to Paid Family Leave in California, the first state in the country to pass this kind of legislation. Paid Family Leave was passed in 2002 and implemented in 2004, and since then has helped approximately 1.6 million Californians care for newborns, adopted children, sick parents and spouses by providing paid leave for up to 6 weeks. The current federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides only unpaid, job-protected leave to workers who use the program, but the proposed FAMILY Act will offer paid benefits for up to 12 weeks, as well as job security.

Paid Family Leave was recently expanded in California through SB 770 (Jackson) to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law. The expansion will take effect in July 2014.

“California’s first-in-the-Nation Paid Family Leave law has provided California families with economic stability during important family events and has benefited California businesses and the state economy. Now, it is a model for the nation,” said Ann O’Leary, Vice-President and Director of the Children & Families program at Next Generation. “We are all mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents or children—we need a way to care for our families without risking our financial security.”

“The FAMILY Act has taken important lessons from California, since our state was the first in the country to successfully pass paid family leave,” said Sharon Terman, Senior Staff Attorney at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. “After more than a decade since implementing Paid Family Leave, we know that employers are widely supportive of the law and report no ill-effects as a result of implementing it, and that families have benefited from having paid time off to care for ill relatives or to bond with new babies. It’s a win-win for all.”

The California Work & Family Coalition, a project of Next Generation, was instrumental in passing both Paid Family Leave in 2002 and its recently approved expansion. Coalition members currently advise California workers and families who want to take paid family leave, and contribute their expertise to a website, www.paidfamilyleave.org, which provides accessible, up-to-date information about paid family leave in California, as well as stories from people who have needed its benefits.

“I care for my brother who is disabled due to lifelong intractable epilepsy,”says Trish Hughes Kreis of Sacramento, CA, who is profiled on the website. “Robert is 48 years old and has tried numerous anti-epileptic drugs, had two surgeries and participated in research studies, yet his seizures continue on an almost daily basis. Because Robert is my sibling, caring for him is not included in the protected leaves provided by FMLA and CFRA. But now, Paid Family Leave has been expanded to include caring for siblings. I am fortunate that my employer has worked with me so I could care for Robert, but not everyone is as lucky. This is why Paid Family Leave is so important.”

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About California Work & Family Coalition

The California Work & Family Coalition, a project of Next Generation, is an alliance of community organizations, unions and non-profits protecting every California worker’s right to put their family first. We work together to promote work family policies that help parents, caregivers, children and families thrive.

Learn more at www.workfamilyca.org and on Twitter @WorkFamilyCA.

About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans: The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.

Learn more at thenextgeneration.org, www.facebook.com/thenextgeneration.org and on Twitter @nextgen_USA.