Contact: Alex Edwards, Alex.Edwards@berlinrosen.com, 202-800-8691
A statement from Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, in response to the release of the FY2015 budget:
“The release today of the president’s budget is a boon for working families across America. Through supporting a $5 million State Paid Leave Fund and an additional $100 million initiative to support state paid leave programs, President Obama is affirming that no American should have to choose between the health of their families and the paycheck they desperately need. Additional funding to strengthen wage and hour enforcement will help ensure that workers receive fair wages and overtime pay, and can access job-protected leave for family and medical purposes.
In 1995, I served on the bipartisan Commission on Leave appointed by Congress to study the impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Despite many differences, the Commission unanimously recommended that states experiment with forms of paid family leave. Nearly 20 years later, states have been leading the way: California, New Jersey and Rhode Island have already passed family and medical leave insurance funds, and they are proving successful for workers, residents and businesses alike.
Many other states are considering similar programs, and would be greatly helped by federal funding and technical assistance. Washington State, for example, passed paid family leave in 2007 but has yet to implement the program due to lack of start-up funding. Today’s budget makes significant progress toward furthering paid leave in Washington and elsewhere — wins that will, ultimately, pave the way for passage of a federal program through the FAMILY Act.
Currently, only 12% of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers, meaning millions of Americans have to forgo income they need to cover basic expenses in order to care for themselves or ill family members. Paid family leave programs support families, boost businesses’ bottom line through increased productivity and reduced turnover costs, and strengthen our economy. Congress should follow the president’s lead, pass the budget and support working families across the country.”