What You Need to Know About the FAMILY Act

The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FMLI) or FAMILY Act's details

Working Families
••• Getty Images/LWA/Dann Tardif

Here’s the scoop on the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FMLI) or FAMILY Act.

Who it’s for

The FAMILY Act will be for anyone working in the public or private sector, which are full-time, part-time or self-employed.  It will cover workers who gave birth or adopted a new child, someone who has to care for an immediate family member with a serious illness or with their own medical condition.

What it is about

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have proposed an insurance plan for paid family and medical leave of up to 12 weeks paid each year. 

Employees would be eligible to collect benefits equal to 66% of their typical monthly wages, with a capped monthly maximum amount of $1,000 per week.  The payment would be sent for each month beginning on the first of the month as long as the employee has filled out the FMLI application within 90 days, is insured for disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act, and has been employed for one year.

Employers and employees will contribute a small fraction of their paycheck per week.  The amount an employee contributes has been broken down in a few examples such as:

  • .2% of their wages
  • About 2 cents for every $10 earned
  • An average contribution of approximately $2 per week

Employers will pay a tax into this insurance plan.

The administration of this insurance plan will be managed under the Social Security Administration office.

Where it’s already provided

All around the globe 178 nations are providing some form of paid family leave.  Unfortunately the United States is the only industrialized nation not to offer paid maternity leave. 

There are a few states though who do offer a form of paid family leave and they are California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The FAMILY Act is not identical to the plans offered by these states but much has been learned from the policies these states follow (yeah for them!).

When the bill was proposed

The bill was introduced on December 12, 2013, and its current state is “introduced”.

According to govtrack.org the FAMILY Act bill was assigned to a congressional committee in the Spring of 2015 to be considered before sending the bill on to the Congress and the Senate.

Why this bill is important

Only 12% of US workers have access to fully paid family leave.  This doesn’t stop some from taking it because, well, who wouldn’t want to spend time with their newborn.  Who can say no to taking care of their sick mother or father?  So workers lose money and suffer although most say it was worth the sacrifice.  American Progress states that a number of wages lost for a 12 week period are $9,316.

There are many other reasons why this bill is important and they will be covered in the next post.

The FAMILY Act is not to be confused with FMLA

An act passed over 20 years ago, the Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA of 1993, which provides employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recover from serious illness, care for a newborn¸ or care for seriously ill spouses, parents or children, but the employee has to have worked for 12 months  and worked 1,250 hours or more in the previous year.  This law only covers companies with 50 employees or more or within 75 miles of their worksite. 

Many employees are not covered by this or can’t afford to take unpaid leave.

There is also the Family Act of 2013 which seeks to create a tax credit for the out-of-pocket costs associated with in vitro fertilization and fertility preservation.  It has the same title but the FMLI ‘s nickname is FAMILY Act.

Want to take action?

If you feel compelled to take action, fill out this petition "Working Parents Deserve Paid Family Leave!" sponsored by Working Mother Magazine and the National Partnership for Women & Families.