On occasion, illness of either a worker or their loved one can require them to be away from work. In the United States, a federal law known as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Workers can take time off work to care for themselves or a loved one without fear of dismissal, retaliation, or discrimination by their employer.
Employees are eligible for unpaid leave if:
- You’ve worked for at least 12 months
- You’ve worked at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months
Your employer is:
- A public agency, including government agencies
- An elementary or secondary school
- A private employer with at least 50 employees
If you are eligible, you are entitled to:
- Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:
- A serious personal health condition
- To care for a spouse, parent, son, or daughter with a serious health
- The birth, adoption, or fostering of a son or daughter
For most working families in the United States, however, using this federally-guaranteed unpaid leave is not economically feasible, particularly if illness of an individual or their loved one incurs high healthcare costs. As a result, paid family and medical leave has become a key workers’ rights issue across the nation. Workers need time to bond with new children, deal with personal illness, or care for an ill family member, but often struggle to piece together benefits that will allow them to take needed leave and remain afloat financially. Researchers Appelbaum and Milkman recently reported that paid family leave has little to no effect on business productivity or profitability and in fact saves the national healthcare system a great deal of money and has a positive effect on public health efforts. Evidence also shows that abuse of paid leave programs is minimal.
Paid Leave & Hispanics
Paid family leave would benefit all workers, with potentially a greater positive effect on Hispanic workers and their families because:
- Hispanics are a growing segment of the U.S. population and an even faster-growing segment of the workforce
- Latino workers are often in low-level jobs that do not offer paid leave benefits
- About 44% of Hispanic older adults aged 70 years or more receive informal home caregiving – compared to about 34% of African Americans and 25% of non-Hispanic whites (American Psychological Association)
In light of the growing number of intergenerational households and caregivers across diverse communities, NHCOA is working to ensure paid family leave is a priority at the local and national level. NHCOA’s paid family leave initiative informs diverse workers and families of existing state laws that provide paid leave, as well as empower diverse communities in states where these laws don’t exist or have yet to be enacted.
- Paid Family Leave (PFL)
- Permiso Familiar Pagado (PFP)
- Permiso Familiar Pagado CFRA
- Permiso Familiar Pagado de Hoteles LA
- Permiso Familiar Pagado FMLA
- Permiso Familiar Pagado PFL
- Familias Saludables
Cuéntanos Tu Historia
The Cuéntanos Tu Historia campaign was designed to highlight diverse populations and their perspectives on paid leave issues. The ability to take time off work to care for one’s health or the health of a loved one is an issue that affects all working people. With Cuéntanos Tu Historia, NHCOA highlights the experiences of diverse groups to show that everyone has a stake ensuring that everyone has access to paid sick and family leave policies.
Photo Story Collection in collaboration with the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC):
Video Story Playlist in collaboration with NHCOA Hispanic Aging Network members in New Jersey:
Telling stories is one of the best education tools we have. We would be honored to share yours as we work to educate and empower our community on the issues that most matter.