Workers deserve meaningful access to family and medical leave—and that means being able to afford to take it. A growing number of states have shown that paid leave laws can work. We can and must do the same at the national level.
Today is Moms’ Equal Pay Day. On average, mothers who work full-time, year-round, only earn 71 cents for every dollar fathers earn. To bring this into focus, in a role where a man is making $40,000 per year for a full-time job, the average mother would only make $28,400, or $11,600 less for that same role.
For too many mothers and those that love them, balancing family and work is a constant struggle, from staying healthy during pregnancy, to breastfeeding while working, to getting a sick parent or child to the doctor. This Mother’s Day, it’s time for more than cards and flowers—let’s honor our mothers with the policy changes working families need. We won’t stop fighting until all of us can be there for our families like Ileana was.
States are stepping up to fill the gaps by providing job-protected leave to many workers left out of the FMLA. Some states have extended leave to employees of small businesses with less than 50 employees. Other states have reduced the duration and hours worked requirements in their state leave laws, while still others have done away with these requirements completely.
We can have both paid leave now and a secure Social Security system for our retirement. States are leading the way with paid leave laws that are already working for real families and a federal bill, the FAMILY Act, could provide comprehensive, sustainable paid leave nationwide.
In the 25 years since the signing of the FMLA, federal law has been mostly stagnant while states and cities have been moving forward with stronger protections. Our new report, A Foundation and a Blueprint, lifts up the leadership of these innovative states and cities to light the way toward the workplace leave laws we need now.