On January 28, we watched as the House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on legislative proposals for paid family and medical leave, helmed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a champion of The FAMILY Act. The FAMILY Act would guarantee U.S. workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to welcome a new child, care for a family member with a serious illness or disability, attend to their own serious medical needs, or deal with a loved one’s deployment. The hearing represents a historic step forward for this critical legislation!
At the hearing, advocates and Congressmembers shared stories and statistics highlighting the urgent need for a comprehensive paid family and medical leave law, and why the FAMILY Act—which follows the same model as many successful state programs—is the right approach, unlike proposals that cut social security or require workers to borrow against their future. They also emphasize the need for a federal paid leave program that ensures job protection, progressive wage replacement, and an inclusive definition of family—all crucial components to make sure workers can take full advantage of the program, as we’ve seen in the states.
Witnesses included our fellow advocates New America’s Vicki Shabo, Legal Aid at Work’s Sharon Terman, and NELP’s Kemi Role. They lifted up key elements of what a strong program should include, as well as the economic toll and the mental toll a lack of paid leave can take on workers, especially for workers of color and workers in low-wage jobs. Small business owner Rebecca Hamilton also shared how a federal paid leave program would help her cut costs and provide for her employees, and journalist Joan Lunden highlighted the nation’s caregiving crisis, sharing her story of caring for both her aging mother and her children.
“Through A Better Balance’s advocacy efforts and our free legal helpline, we’ve seen firsthand how too many workers, especially low-wage workers, must risk their economic security or jobs when welcoming a new child, caring for a seriously ill loved one, or addressing their own medical needs,” said A Better Balance Co-President Sherry Leiwant in a statement.
“We applaud the House Committee on Ways and Means for moving this critical issue forward, and we urge Congress to bring The FAMILY Act to a vote and make paid leave for all a reality,” she added.
We are proud to be leaders of the federal Paid Leave for All campaign and to advocate for a strong federal paid leave program for all workers and their families.