CHN: Paid Leave Proposed for American Workers

Recently proposed legislation in the Senate would provide eight weeks of paid leave for American workers.
Senators Dodd (D-CT) and Stevens (R-AK) introduced the Family Leave Insurance Act of 2007, S. 1681 on June 21.  The bill would allow individuals to be compensated for up to eight weeks over a 12-month period if they take time off from work for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a child, spouse or parent with a serious illness, or to care for their own serious illness.

In a statement released by Senator Dodd’s office, he said, “No one should have to choose between the job they need and the family they love, and I deeply regret that today many people are forced to make these types of decisions.”  Senator Dodd was also the author of the Family Leave and Medical Act of 1993 which has allowed more than 50 million workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they are ill or if they need to care for a sick family member or new child.

The Act constructs a new “Family Leave Insurance Fund” through which employers and employees would share small premiums.  To ensure no extra burdens would be put on employers and employees, the bill provides that employers pay leave benefits to employees through regular payroll checks with prompt reimbursement from the Family Leave Insurance Fund.  The leave benefits would be tiered based on employees’ wages.

According to the Work, Family and Equity Index, released by researchers from Harvard and McGill Universities, the United States falls behind 163 other countries that provide paid maternal leave and 45 countries that ensure paid paternal leave.  Additionally, 37 countries already guarantee paid leave for the care of an ill child.

The advocacy community is currently working to gain support for the bill by gathering co-sponsors.  No date has yet been scheduled for initial mark-up of the bill.

Labor and Employment