Approximately 87 percent of workers receive no paid family leave, a problem that AFSCME and other advocates for working families have been pushing elected officials to address for years. The issue finally emerged as a policy focus in last year’s presidential elections.
In a July 10 letter to the president, more than 100 congressional Democrats urged President Donald Trump to support legislation providing working families with 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave “that is sustainable, affordable, and inclusive.” They noted that Trump’s 2018 budget request – which includes a paid family leave provision – “is inadequate because it only provides six weeks of paid leave for limited circumstances and without a solid funding mechanism.”
Democratic lawmakers also wrote that Trump’s plan is “inconsistent with the 12-week national standard” set by current federal law. That law, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), requires an employer to provide up to 12 weeks of family leave – but unpaid.
The letter also points out Trump’s plan limits paid leave to birth or adoption. Yet, under current law, justification for family leave includes putting a child up for adoption or foster care, caring for a spouse, child or parent with a “serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job,” or qualifying emergency of a covered family member on “covered active duty.”
In a recent article for The Wall Street Journal, the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, a White House advisor, called paid family leave “an investment in America’s working families.”
We agree that providing paid family leave is an investment in America’s working families. But we also agree that Trump’s meager plan for six weeks of limited paid family leave “falls far short of what most working Americans need.”