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La falta de acceso al Permiso Familiar Remunerado dispara las cifras de desempleo entre los cuidadores de adultos mayores en EE.UU.

Por Nicolás Peña

NHCOA/WDC/Octubre 2016.- En la actualidad, más de 40 millones de personas que ofrecen cuidados permanentes a sus familiares adultos mayores no reciben ningún tipo de remuneración por esta labor.

Aunque el 52% de estas personas cuenta con empleos a tiempo completo, que en nada se relacionan al cuidado de salud, 48% asegura haber perdido sus ingresos al tener que decidir entre garantizar la atención permanente a un ser querido y conservar su empleo.

Según datos de la Asociación Nacional para las Mujeres y Familias, el hecho de no contar con leyes que le permitan acceder a permisos remunerados para la atención familiar o de enfermedades, hace que una persona pierda más de 300 mil dólares en salarios, Seguro Social y pensiones, durante su vida laboral.

El Departamento de Trabajo en EE.UU., garantiza por ley el permiso familiar y/o por enfermedad. Sin embargo, sólo 60% de la fuerza laboral en el país tiene acceso a este beneficio. Las causas, en su mayoría, derivan de la falta de información por parte del beneficiario, y el incumplimiento por parte del empleador.

En este sentido, Washington, D.C., lleva la delantera en medidas que garantizan el pago por permiso familiar y/o enfermedad en un período de 16 semanas. La ley aplica para trabajadores a tiempo completo y mitad de jornada. Así mismo, para aquellos empleados que perciban ingresos por propinas.

Citas por emergencias de salud, atención primaria preventiva, acompañar a un familiar a chequeos médico o cuidar de él durante períodos de enfermedad, son parte de los beneficios que esta ley ofrece. Permisos relacionados a violencia doméstica o acoso sexual, también están contemplados. Comuníquese al 1-866-488-7379 si desea obtener mayor información.

Dear Governor Cuomo: Women Leaders Are Hungry for Paid Leave

This letter was sent to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week on behalf of 23 female leaders and advocates, including NHCOA President and CEO Dr. Yanira Cruz, who are asking for the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance program to be expanded to include paid family leave:

As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address, the U.S. is “the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.” In fact, only one other nation – Papua New Guinea – stands with us on this particularly embarrassing list.
Yet recently you declared that New York lacks the “appetite” to pass paid family leave legislation. According to you, Albany’s appetite for change has been filled by other policies that seek to advance women’s equality, and which deserve to be addressed first.
As representatives of national organizations who work every day for policies that promote gender justice, we have to disagree.  Pitting paid family leave against an agenda for women’s equality is like saying we can’t build bridges because we need to build roads. In fact, affordable leave is key to economic security for women, for communities and for families. New York should step forward as a leader.
From wage discrimination to paid family leave, policies that advance gender equity work hand in hand. In fact, the lack of paid family leave is a key contributor to women’s lower pay and inequality.  The glass ceiling is held in place by thick maternal walls.
Paid leave is also not only a women’s issue. Men want to be good fathers, sons and husbands, but are punished on the job for doing exactly that. Research underlines the importance of paid leave for babies’ development and early learning – something we all have a stake in. The issue also deeply impacts seniors, the chronically ill, and our economy as a whole. Given the disproportionate impact of lack of leave on workers of color, such a policy is also critical for achieving racial justice.
Voters on both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly agree on the need for paid leave and also that government has a responsibility to provide policies that reflect the realities of today’s families. Nationally, 81 percent – 94 percent Democrats, 80 percent of Independents and 65 percent of Republicans – say workplace rules to ensure equal pay, paid time off to care for family members and affordable child care are “good for our nation.”
Doctors have also found that policies allowing family members to be with their loved ones through an illness boost the health of their patients. And economists know that affordable leave keeps women in the workforce and increases their earning potential – without hurting businesses small or large.
Today New York is the only state besides Hawaii that has a Temporary Disability Insurance program that has not been expanded to include paid family leave. The other three – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island – have all established such programs, with benefits for families and for business. Unlike other states working hard to find funds to create a new paid family leave program, New York has an existing structure that can easily be expanded to include care of new children and family members. Creating this program will not bring additional costs to the state, while providing critical support for families.
Paid family leave would ensure that no New Yorker has to choose between the health and economic stability of her family. It would mean that major life moments we all share – the arrival of a new child, or a close relative needing care – do not have to mean debt or bankruptcy.
We need New York to be a pacesetter for the nation. We know that the appetite for paid family leave in New York State is robust. We call on you to join in supporting and pressing for a paid family leave policy that not only advances women, but all of New York while paving the way for change in other states and nationally.
Signed,

Ellen Bravo, Executive Director, Family Values @ Work

Melanie Campbell, President & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable

Yanira Cruz, President and CEO, National Hispanic Council on Aging

Margot Dorfman, President US Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Eve Ensler, Playwright and Activist

Olivia Golden, President, Center on Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice

Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

Carol Joyner, Director, Labor Project for Working Families

Linda Meric, Executive Director, 9to5

Debra Ness, Executive Director, National Partnership for Women & Families

Ai-jen Poo, Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Co-Director, Caring Across Generations

Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner, Co-Founder and Executive Director/CEO, MomsRising

Elizabeth H. Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority

Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress

Jessica Valenti, Author

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

Teresa Younger, President and CEO, Ms. Foundation for Women

It’s Time to Act on the FAMILY Act

This week Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) plan to reintroduce the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act in Congress. 

NHCOA joins several other national organizations– which have supported the FAMILY Act since its historic introduction in 2013– in urging members of Congress to co-sponsor and pass this legislation, which would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program.

Show Congress your support for the FAMILY Act

You can support the FAMILY Act by sending this customizable email to your state senators and representative:

Dear Senator/Representative [INSERT LAST NAME],

Only 13% of the nation’s workforce has employer-provided paid family leave and less than 40% has employer-provided paid medical leave. This time for Congress to take notice and act is now so that millions of hardworking women and men don’t have to face financial instability when a new child arrives or a serious illness strikes, harming families, businesses and the economy. 

Paid leave champions, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), plan to reintroduce the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act this week, and I urge you to co-sponsor this common sense bill. 

Everyone needs time to care for a new child, help sick loved ones or handle a serious illness, and we’re counting on your leadership to help make it happen.

Respectfully yours,

[YOUR NAME]

Want to take more action on paid leave?

Be a part of the conversation on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #TimeforFAMILY and #FAMILYAct.

Learn more about paid family leave and share your story here.

 

Looking Toward the “Fourth Quarter”

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Tonight President Obama will lay out his fourth quarter plan for his last two years in the White House. Over the last few weeks, he has shared a couple of “SOTU spoilers,” traveling the country to discuss different aspects of what he will present in tonight’s speech.

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers we represent, here are a couple of areas we would like to see the President prioritize over the next two years.

1. Work with Congress to protect low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

The Medicare Qualified Individual program, which pays for low-income seniors’ Medicare Part B premiums, has been temporarily extended until March 31, 2015. Congress should make this program permanent and provide funding to help low-income seniors, particularly Hispanic older adults, gain access to the Qualified Individual program and other Medicare benefits as those who are elegible are most likely not to receive it.

Medicare fraud is also a pervasive issue among Latino seniors. They are systematically targeted due to the multiple barriers that keep them from accessing and understanding their benefits and rights as Medicare beneficiares. Congress should ensure that proper funding be secured to conduct culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education to this vulnerable, hard-to-reach population.

2. Urge Congress to strengthen and reauthorize the Older Americans Act.

The Older Americans Act is long overdue for reauthorization, and needs to be modernized to better serve the needs of the growing and diverse older adult population it serves, particularly low-income seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. The programs of the OAA are also extremely important in allowing older adults to age in dignity and the best possible health as it authorizes a wide variety of programs focused on health, nutrition, caregiver support, job training, and more.

3. Urge Congress to pass the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2014.

The bill would provide some sorely needed updates to this long-neglected program which provides subsistence level income for over 8 million older Americans and people with disabilities. A majority of those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are women, including two-thirds of those who receive SSI on the basis of age. Revising the current SSI program to match 2014 cost of living standards and expenses is not only common-sense, but critical to the success, health, and well-being of all seniors, and especially those in the Hispanic community.

4. Provide increased subsidized housing opportunities for Hispanic older adults and low-income seniors.

The Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Section 202 Program helps to expand the supply of affordable housing with supportive services for older adults.  It provides very low-income older adults with options that allow them to live independently but in an environment that provides support activities such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation. Additionally, the building and housing units have railings and other features which make them easily accessible for older adults. Many Hispanic older adults live in subsidized housing, but the wait lists are long, and many wait years before qualifying. Increased funding for these housing programs is needed to reduce the wait periods and allow more Hispanic older adults and low-income seniors to have a safe and affordable place to live.

5. Take action so more working families have access to family and medical paid leave.

Currently, the United States is lagging behind other developed countries on paid family and medical leave policies: it is the only developed nation that doesn’t require employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave. According to the White House, it is estimated that 43 million private-sector workers in the United States do not have access to any form of paid sick leave. We applaud President Obama’s announcement last week, which included a call to Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, but there is more to be done to ensure that all working American families have access to the time off they need to take care of themselves or a family member.

NHCOA will be live tweeting tonight during the State of the Union, which starts at 9 pm ET. For live streaming and more information about tonight’s speech, visit wh.gov/SOTU.

NHCOA Commends President Obama for Urging Congress to Adopt the Healthy Families Act

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The National Hispanic Council on Aging the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers applauded President Obama yesterday for urging Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which will allow working Americans to accrue up to a week of paid sick leave each year to take care of themselves or a sick family member, get preventive care or address the impacts of domestic violence.

“An estimated 43 million Americans check in and out of their jobs, day in and day out, yet they do not have paid sick leave. This includes Latino and Latina workers who cannot afford to get sick because they are the breadwinners and the caretakers in their households,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO.

“These workers are constantly faced with the dilemma of having to choose their job over their health, or the health of their family members. The Health Families Act, championed by Representative Rosa DeLauro and Senator Patty Murray, would make it possible for workers to take time off when they or their loved ones are sick without having to worry about losing wages, or worse, their jobs.”

While Congress considers the Healthy Families Act, President Obama also called on states and cities, such as California and Paterson, NJ, to pass similar laws. In addition, he proposed more than $2 billion to develop paid family and medical leave programs, and signed a Presidential Memorandum directing agencies to allow for the advance of six weeks of paid sick leave for parents with a new child, employees caring for ill family members, and other sick leave-eligible uses.

Currently, the United States is lagging behind other developed countries on paid family and medical leave policies: it is the only developed nation that doesn’t require employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave. According to the White House, it is estimated that 43 million private-sector workers in the United States do not have access to any form of paid sick leave.

“NHCOA has supported, and will continue to support the Healthy Families Act, as well as other legislation that helps working families and our economy, such as the Family Act. Therefore, we join President Obama in urging Congress to ‘lead on leave’ by making paid family and medical leave a reality for all working Americans,” said Dr. Cruz.

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Click here to read FACT SHEET: White House Unveils New Steps to Strengthen Working Families Across America

Watch President Obama’s remarks