By Nicolás Peña
Washington, D.C. February 2018.- It has been 25 years since the implementation in the US of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA Act). This unpaid benefits leaves out 40% of workers, which mostly have to decide between their family or their jobs. Currently, federal law guarantees up to 12 weeks of absence without pay and requires employers to maintain and continue health insurance benefits for workers who are on leave.
According to data published by BBC Mundo in 2016, a quarter of American adults have been threatened or fired for requesting permission for time off due to medical recovery or care of a family member.
It is common to associate family leave with people who are under 40 , assuming that older adults have already retired. However, more than 30% of this group remains in the labor market. It is estimated that this year more than 10% of Americans over 75 will be working or looking for a job. This figure translates into approximately two million people, for whom the passage and implementation of the paid leave initiatives at the national level should be a priority.
In the framework of the FMLA Act’s anniversary, it is necessary to insist on the need to expand the benefits of this law throughout the country and ensure paid leave. California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Washington, and Washington DC, are the states where the first steps were taken with similar laws. Now, effective in the beginning of 2018 Maryland has joined this group with the approval of Paid Sick Leave.
That is why support for the bill known as The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (Family Act), sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D – NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D – Conn.), should continue as a focal point for 2018.