Families are not one size fits all and our laws shouldn’t be either. Many families include unmarried partners, extended relatives, and close loved ones who may not share a biological or legal relationship.
Unfortunately, our laws have failed to keep up with these changes, allowing too many families to fall through the cracks. We need to ensure that everyone–no matter what their family looks like–can care for the ones they love without paying an impossible price at work.
ABB is working around the country to raise awareness about the diversity of family structures, and to enact workplace laws and policies that cover a wide range of caregiving relationships.
Expanding Family Definitions in Paid Leave Laws
We are pushing to pass workplace laws that broadly define family to include extended relatives and other loved ones who may not be biologically or legally related to the worker. Together with our partners at Family Values @ Work, we have collaborated across social justice movements, and with local, state, and federal campaigns, to ensure that our laws and policies include families of all types.
In 2015, we gathered significant support for the White House’s model family definition in an Executive Order guaranteeing earned paid sick time to employees of federal contractors. We have also helped to pass a model, inclusive family definition in a dozen state and local paid sick time laws, covering approximately 20 million workers. In 2019, we reached another milestone when two states–Oregon and Connecticut–passed more extended paid family and medical leave insurance laws with our model family definition, and New Jersey expanded its current program to update its family definition as well. We look forward to building on these successes!
The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act and LGBT Families
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires certain employers to provide unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks for employees to care for a new child or seriously ill family member, to recover from their own serious health condition, or to deal with certain military family obligations. Unfortunately, 40% of all workers are not eligible for FMLA coverage, and the law’s definition of family is narrow. Despite this narrow definition, the FMLA’s recognition of same-sex couples and their children has improved in recent years.
To learn more about how we are advancing broad family definitions across the country, visit the ABB Resources section on LGBTQ and Chosen Families.
Here you’ll get a wealth of information, including:
- Updates on our efforts to expand family definitions and ways to get involved
- Tools for discussing the need for broad family definitions
- Materials about how current laws apply to LGBT workers and their loved ones
- Additional web links, news articles, and more