The Opportunity Agenda

Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance

The Problem

Did you know the United States is the only high-income country in the world that does not guarantee a paid leave program? No wonder the U.S. doesn’t even rank in the top 10 best countries for being a working woman according to The Economist’s Glass Ceiling Index. The lack of paid family leave insurance leaves some of our most highly skilled and hardest workers struggling to remain in the workforce, hampering innovation and hamstringing family budgets.

The Solution

Rebuilding America’s middle class relies on keeping every woman who wants to work in the workforce and earning a paycheck. To help make this a reality, Senator Gillibrand will introduce The FAMILY Act, which would create a fully self-sustaining paid family and medical leave program that would provide financial security for our families at the moment they need it most. Based on successful state models, it works by establishing an independent trust fund supported by employee and employer contributions of .2% percentage of wages. In other words, for the cost of a one cup of coffee a week (less than $2/wk for the average worker) paid leave would available to every worker in America — no matter how big your company or whether you work full-time, part-time, or are self-employed.

Make Your Voice Heard

Next time a candidate or elected official asks you for your vote or your money – ask them where they stand on The Opportunity Plan.
Women’s voices must be heard, like a megaphone that Congress can’t ignore, to change the priorities of our nation to reflect the needs of American families in the new economy.

Contact Your Legislator

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Opportunity Points

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides unpaid, job-protected leave, but only about half of the workforce qualifies, and many more cannot afford to take it because it is unpaid.
  • As workers with care responsibilities withdraw from the workforce, they bring home less income, are less likely to earn raises and promotions, have more restricted access to retirement & SSI benefits and accumulate lower lifetime earnings
  • Women are often the primary caregivers of infants, children, and elderly parents. We must make it easier for them to go in and out of the workforce so they can meet those family needs.
  • No workers should have to choose between the families they love and the jobs they need

"No mother should have to be worried about losing wages after giving birth to their babies or having to take leave to care for a loved one."

“My daughter’s medical condition made it even more heart wrenching for me to return to work sooner than I wanted to. However, our household would suffer financially if I didn’t do so. I went out on FMLA leave on December 22, in order to prepare for my daughter’s surgery. By the middle of January I had stopped receiving pay checks. My husband was out of work due to being injured in a car accident so my income was pretty much paying the bills. I really can’t explain to you how frustrating it was for us. During my daughter’s hospitalization . . . along with being at the hospital with her, we had to find means of paying our bills to keep us from being evicted, having food and taking care of our family. No mother should have to be worried about losing wages after giving birth to their babies or having to take leave to care for a loved one. . . . Newborn babies as well as sick children or family members are vulnerable and need to be cared for with minimum financial worries. I am grateful for the time I was able to spend loving my daughter. But I must say, If my leave was paid, it would not have changed my daughter’s circumstance but it would have relieved my family of serious anxieties as to how we would meet our basic needs.”

- Dimitajo, Brooklyn (via A Better Balance)

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