My last blog entry, “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds”, described the National House Democrats’ economic agenda for creating equal working conditions between men and women, as well as exploring different policies that take into account the situations that women uniquely face in the workforce.
One idea that was proposed is to expand the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was passed in 1993 as a federal law that requires covered employers to give their employees unpaid time-off due to family or medical emergencies. The conditions of FMLA are very specific in that to be eligible, “an employee must have been at the business at least 12 months, and worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.” These restrictions cause approximately 40% of workers to not be able to access the law.
Other nations have taken steps to help individuals who need time off but cannot afford it, with a majority of countries in Europe and Asia providing 26 weeks of paid leave to new mothers. A way to expand FMLA for Connecticut would be to provide insurance for leave that falls under FMLA. States such as California and New Jersey, have already started this initiative. In these states, cash benefits for up to six weeks to care for a child, or sick family member, are provided by integrating the program into the states’ already existing temporary disability insurances. The programs are paid for by taking small deductions out of employees’ payrolls.
For years, CWEALF has supported FMLA and the tools to make it successful. In the last legislative session S.A. No. 13-13, An Act Establishing a Task Force to Study Family Medical Leave Insurance was passed, creating a task force comprised of individuals from different backgrounds to explore the positives and negatives of insurance given on a short-term basis to those unable to work due to pregnancy, caring for a sick family member, or having an injury unrelated to work. A report of the task force’s findings and recommendations will be submitted by October 1, 2014. CWEALF submitted strong testimony in favor of creating this Task Force, and will continue to support efforts to craft solutions to encourage the economic success of Connecticut families.
Written by Lisa Vickers. Currently a CWEALF intern, Lisa is majoring in History and Women’s Studies at the University of Connecticut – Storrs, and aspires to enter the field of women’s law.