All employees will, at some point in their careers, need time away from work to care for their own illness, an illness of a family member or the birth/care of a child. The only option for some employees to tend to these critical situations is through taking an unpaid leave under the federal or state Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is insufficient to meet the current economic needs of workers. Paid family and medical leave would address this policy gap by allowing employees to take a job-protected leave from their employer to take care of their own serious illness.
- According to the CT Department of Labor, 67% of FMLA leaves were taken for an employee’s own illness. The remaining FMLA leaves were due to pregnancy-related reasons (24%) or for a family member’s illness (9%). These findings point to the need for a paid family leave system to support employees not just for care giving, but for their own health.
- Employees ineligible for FMLA or unable to go without pay may be forced to continue working. Or if employees do take FMLA, it may result in financial hardship, increased stress, and more harm to their overall well-being.
- Over 60% of FMLA leave-takers reported that it was somewhat or very difficult to make ends meet during leave.
- Paid sick days, a separate but related policy to paid leave, give employees the opportunity to recover from short-term illnesses or health issues, but are not enough to recover from long-term injuries or illnesses, such as cancer, episodic chronic illness, or childbirth.