Sen. Notes 'We Are The Only Industrialized Country' Without Paid Leave

BAY SHORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP)Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced legislation that would provide paid family and medical leave.

The senator’s measure would change the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was enacted in 1993, to give workers about two-thirds of their salaries for up to 12 weeks in a family crisis.

The current law provides 12 weeks unpaid leave for serious health-related events for only about half of the work force.

She says the other half don’t qualify for the unpaid leave, and many who do qualify can’t afford to take time off.

“Because we don’t have paid family medical leave, it really hurts businesses. If you have a worker that you’ve trained, who you rely on, who’s great and all of a sudden they have a family emergency and you can’t offer paid leave, that employee’s likely going to have to quit,” said Gillibrand. “We are the only industrialized country in the world that does not have paid family medical leave. You’d be shocked to know places like Afghanistan and Pakistan have paid leave.”

The measure has also been introduced in the House by Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro. The senator said Thursday on Long Island that she is seeking bipartisan support.

Gillibrand wants to create a trust fund within the Social Security Administration to pay for an expanded leave program.

She says the program would be financed by employees and employers contributing 0.2 percent of wages.

“Everyone would put a little bit of money out of their paycheck every week to put into this account when they need it most. Their employer will match that,” said Gillibrand. “So for an average worker, it’s less than $2 a week.”

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