A call to expand FMLA benefits

It is unlikely that you baked a cake or threw a birthday party for one of America’s most treasured worker protections. Though the Family and Medical Leave Act turned 24 a few days ago to little fanfare, the event did not pass by unnoticed.

A group of U.S. senators, including Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, reintroduced a bill to create a new, universal paid leave program: the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act. If it is made into law, it would help workers care for themselves and their families while retaining their jobs and a portion of their incomes.

As you know, current FMLA benefits allow eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to tend to serious personal or family medical conditions, including pregnancy.

The proposed FAMILY Act would be a self-sustaining program for all employees, its proponents say. Their proposal calls for the gender-neutral program to create a fund from collected worker contributions to provide up to two-thirds of wage replacement for 12 weeks.

Like FMLA, the new program would be used by workers dealing with serious personal or family medical situations.

Baldwin and other senators note that the U.S. “is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program.” They say that because there is no national paid leave program, women lose an average of $324,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetimes, while men lose an average of $284,000 each.

The cost to you for the FAMILY Act? About a cup of coffee per week from each worker, say supporters.

We don’t take political positions in our blog, but our law firm stands up for workers whose employers try to deny earned and deserved FMLA and Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act benefits. Contact the law offices of Alan C. Olson & Associates, s.c. for more information.



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