Support Paid Family Leave
January 28, 2000
ACTION NEEDED BY FEB. 2ND:
Please take a few minutes to send a short message (sample text below) to
the U.S. Department of Labor in support
of their new regulation allowing states to cover employees taking family
leave under their Unemployment Insurance (UI) program. The postal
address and email address are at the end of the message.
WHAT THIS NEW REGULATION WILL DO:
If the regulation is adopted and if each state allows participation, then
it will be possible for parents and care-takers to continue to receive
a partial salary during their time off to care for a newborn or newly adopted
child. It is extremely important that NOW activists let the department
know that this is a much needed regulation. We will then need to mount
separate efforts in each of the states to have them approve this change
to their UI programs. Please note that big business is actively opposing
this strong pro-family initiative; already thousands of messages in opposition
to the regulation have been generated by business interests.
The U.S. Labor Department has taken a strong step towards making family
leave more affordable for parents and caretakers. In May, 1999, President
Clinton directed the Department of Labor to propose a regulation allowing
new parents to take family leave and be eligible under state insurance
programs covering unemployment. In December, the department proposed a
regulation to allow each state to decide whether to use its Unemployment
Insurance program to pay parents utilizing family leave. As you may be
aware, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) assured that parents or
caretakers who needed to leave their jobs to care for a new baby or a sick
dependent would not lose their jobs (Note: only employers with 50 or more
employees are covered by the FMLA). But it did NOT require companies
to pay employees who took time off for family leave. NOW has always
pushed for paid family leave, and argued that at the very least workers
should continue to receive some pay during that time. But opposition by
business interests and the haste of advocates to get a bill passed, prevented
a requirement for any amount of paid leave.
While employees like having the option of family leave, many can't afford
to forego a paycheck. With more and more families who have two parents
in the paid workforce and substantial number of single parent families,
it is absolutely essential that there be a way to assure that workers receive
income while on family leave. The new DOL regulation isn't perfect:
it doesn't cover the wide variety of family leave reasons B- just
those related to caring for a new baby or a newly adopted child.
But it's a good start.
A number of states including Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire,
Vermont and Washington are considering proposals to expand their UI programs
to cover family leave. Other states like New York, New Jersey, Minnesota,
Iowa and California are advancing plans and policies to establish paid
family leave. The cost for coverage is minimal, for instance, in
Massachusetts, only $1.25 per week per employee would cover all eligible
employees in that state for purposes of family leave. Many states are have
sufficient reserves in the UI trust funds to take on new responsibilities;
in fact, some states are considering tax cuts using the excess reserves.
State UI programs typically replace 50 - 65% of wages or salaries for covered
Please write a short letter to the U.S. Department
of Labor, letting them know how important it is for working parents
to receive pay while taking time off work to care for a newborn or newly
adopted child. Here are some points that you can include in your
letter or email:
*The Bipartisan Family Leave Commission found that nearly two-thirds
of employees who needed but did not take family or medical leave cited
lost wages as the reason.
*The same study found that one in ten employees who took family leave
without pay was forced to go on public assistance while on leave.
*Polls show that a large majority of the public supports paid family
leave by using state Unemployment Insurance programs. Findings indicate
that 82% of women and 75 % of men are supportive. Among Republican women
under age 45, 91% favor this plan, while 89% of under 45 Democratic women
*Utilizing existing state-based unemployment insurance systems makes
sense; the administrative costs to extend coverage for family leave reasons
would be minimal.
*Some 60% of women with babies under age one are in the labor force,
but face difficulty in finding high quality infant day care.
*Working women need and deserve to be paid when they take leave to care
for a newborn baby or a newly-adopted child. Families need to be
supported during this important time.
*Costs to employees for family leave insurance coverage through the
Unemployment Insurance programs will be slight B possibly as little as
$1.25 per week -- as will costs to employers.
*The proposed regulation would adjust the unemployment insurance system
to meet the needs of a changing workforce.
Letters should be sent to the U.S. Department
of Labor NO LATER THAN Feb.2nd
at: Grace A Kilbane, Director
Unemployment Insurance Service U.S. Department of Labor 200
Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room S-4231 Washington, D.C. 20210
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