Two decades after first federal law addressing family leave, growing calls for expanded access to affordable leave
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- February 5 marks the 20-year anniversary of President Clinton's signing of the historic Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the first federal law that guaranteed Americans protected time to care for loved ones. Since its implementation in 1993, FMLA leave has been used more than 100 million times by an estimated 35 million men and women, helping a generation of children get a healthy start in life, a generation of seniors age with greater peace of mind, and many adults care for themselves without having to sacrifice their jobs or health insurance.
"Without FMLA, we would have lost our house," says Vivian Mikhail from Maine, whose 16-month old daughter, Nadia, suffered a rare autoimmune disorder that left her completely deaf. Vivian is sharing her family's story at a February 5 press conference held by Leader Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill. "FMLA allowed me to care for Nadia through her illness, learn Sign Language, take her to out-of-state doctor's appointments and a deaf children's playgroup, and care for her when she got surgery for cochlear implants. FMLA meant I had a job to go back to and that I had health insurance to get us through this terrifying time. It gave my family the tools to help our daughter overcome her illness and thrive."
FMLA has proven to be enormously popular, with 88 percent of Americans who know about the law having a favorable opinion of it. The vast majority of businesses report the program is somewhat easy or very easy to comply with.FMLA offers 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave, which workers can use to care for a new baby, a sick family member, or to recover from an illness. To be protected by FMLA, a worker must be employed by a company with 50 or more employees and work 1,250 hours per year and be on the job for at least a year.