Press Release Inequality United States Workers

While Celebrating Family Medical Leave Act Anniversary, Many Still Left Out

February 04, 2021

Contact: Karen Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington DC — Tomorrow marks the 28th anniversary of the landmark Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which protected millions of workers’ health and incomes. However, the FMLA does not cover approximately 44 percent of workers. 

For the FMLA to improve, it will need to become more equitable. In a new analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), It is Time for the FMLA to Fulfill the Promise of Inclusive and Paid Leave, CEPR economist Yixia Cai and co-director Eileen Appelbaum identify groups most in need of expanded FMLA protections. 

“We found that affordability of taking unpaid leave and the lack of job security are real concerns when it comes to actually taking advantage of the FMLA,” said co-author Cai. 

The report analyzes the 2018 FMLA Employee Survey which shows that single parents need FMLA protections the most. An overwhelming majority — 81 percent — of working solo parents said affordability was a major reason they could not take leave under FMLA. An improved FMLA would mitigate existing labor market disparities linked to parenting status.

For those needing leave but not taking it, the percent reporting concern about job loss is highest among persons living in families headed by a single parent, at 68 percent. 

“Making leave paid and universal could be regarded as a vital policy prescription to mitigate the effects of an unequal sharing of prosperity,” said co-author Appelbaum. 


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