February marks the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act. In recognizing three decades since the passage of this landmark law, the anniversary has also been an opportunity to highlight the fact that 44% of workers are left uncovered by the FMLA, and countless more cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it offers. We have joined with advocates across the country to call for the national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave program we need now. And we are seeing more and more actions of support for enacting these protections for all working people from our federal leaders.
During this year’s State of the Union, President Biden called for a national paid family and medical leave program and a national right to paid sick time, among other critical policies to support the economic security of working families, saying: “Let’s guarantee all workers a living wage… Let’s also make sure working parents can afford to raise a family with sick days, paid family and medical leave, and affordable child care that will enable millions more people to go to work.” We applaud the President for this clear call to action on the paid leave workers and families need now.
The State of the Union came on the heels of a recent White House event celebrating the FMLA’s 30th anniversary, as well as key recent victories for work-family justice, including the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act. At the event, which we were proud to attend alongside several of our Community Advocates, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and former President Clinton all highlighted the need for paid leave for all, to continue building on the legacy of the FMLA. The President also announced a new Presidential memorandum of actions to expand and support access to leave for federal workers.
We were also proud to join Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary Julie Su, Representative Rosa DeLauro, Representative Lauren Underwood, the Second Gentleman, workers and our fellow workers’ rights advocates at the Department of Labor’s 30th Anniversary FMLA Celebration. All these leaders further underscored the case for paid family and medical leave.
No workers should ever have to choose between their job, and caring for themselves and their loved ones. We are hearted by the recent spotlight from our national leaders on the urgent need for a national paid family and medical leave program, which is the result of years of fierce advocacy from our organization and our partners in the Paid Leave for All coalition. We hope to see Congress prioritize paid leave for all in 2023 and beyond.