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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.

of households in the U.S. do not fit the “nuclear family” model of a married mom, dad, and their children
Americans live in multi-generational family households in 2012, double the number who lived in such households in 1980
As of 2012, percentage of Americans ages 25 and older have never married—an increase from 9% in 1960
of LGBTQ adults between the ages of 45 and 64 said that they would depend on close friends in an emergency, compared to 25% of the general population

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!

Visit the ABB Resources to learn more about our efforts to pass paid leave laws and policies that recognize all families.

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.

Visit the ABB Resources to learn more about how the FMLA applies to LGBT workers and their families.

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

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