Legislation that would create paid family and medical leave at the federal level was introduced in both the House and Senate. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, “ensuring that American workers would no longer have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or a family member,” according to bill sponsors.
Currently, the FMLA provides unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health-related events. The FAMILY Act would create an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration (oh boy, another government run program) to collect fees and provide benefits – funded by employee and employer contributions of 0.2 percent (each) of wages, creating a “self-sufficient” program that would not add to the federal budget.
“The expected cost to the average worker would be similar to the expense of one tall latte a week,” sponsors say. In exchange for that outlay, they expect benefits under the federal program would equal 66 percent of an individual’s typical monthly wages, up to a capped monthly amount that would be indexed for inflation.
The bill would make leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer and regardless of whether such individual is currently employed by an employer, self-employed, or currently unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history.
Organized labor, of course, hailed introduction of the paid leave measure. “The FAMILY Act is not just aimed at working mothers; it will improve job security for all families who have to choose between caring for a family member and a paycheck at times of greatest stress. This bill will strengthen America’s workers and economy by providing income stability for all families,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. The legislation, he said, would be “especially important” to younger workers, as well as part-time and low-wage workers. “The FAMILY Act will be a win for employers as well, because it will lower employee turnover rates and increase productivity, if passed,” he contended.