The Future of the Family Act
by Anna Steffeney
by Kirsten Gillibrand, JD
Feb. 5, 2017 marked the 24th anniversary of the groundbreaking federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Shortly thereafter, the Family Act, legislation to create a self-sustaining family insurance program for all American workers, was reintroduced to Congress by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn). During a recent group interview with Sen. Gillibrand, she discussed the future of the Family Act. The statements of Senator Gillibrand in advocating for legislation do not necessarily reflect the opinion of DMEC or its members.
Question: What is the value of a federal program as opposed to state-run programs?
Sen. Gillibrand: Not all states have a large enough population to afford a state-run paid leave plan. The smaller states that support a paid leave bill, North Dakota for example, would never have a risk pool large enough, like California and New York, to afford a state-wide plan. They need a national plan where the risk pool is the whole country so that the buy-in for this insurance is low. Currently, the buy-in to have a paid leave plan for up to three months off at 66% pay is $2.00 a week per employee. Employers and employees will contribute to the fund which would be used to pay the employee’s salary while on leave. This approach makes a paid leave possible for small businesses that otherwise couldn’t afford it.
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