February 08, 2017

Udall Bill Would Create National Paid Family and Medical Leave Program

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined 26 of his Senate colleagues in reintroducing the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, to create a universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave program that provides New Mexicans and all Americans with the paid leave they need to take care of their families without worrying about losing their jobs or a paycheck.

Only 14 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, and the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program. Without a national paid family leave program, the U.S. economy loses almost $21 billion a year, women lose $324,000 and men lose $284,000 in wages and retirement benefits over a lifetime, and American businesses incur an additional 20 percent cost to recruit and retrain new workers to replace those who left in need of paid leave.

"Paid family leave is critical to our families and our workforce. Too many people in New Mexico and across the country have to choose between taking care of their loved ones and taking home a paycheck," Udall said. "I'm proud to cosponsor the FAMILY Act to bring the United States up to speed with the rest of the world by guaranteeing universal paid family and medical leave. It's essential that we pass the FAMILY ACT to ensure that parents can care for their families without losing income or their jobs, and that employers can retain their workers and strengthen our economy."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Mexico has the second highest poverty rate in the nation, but paid family leave can help combat this by allowing single parent homes and people living paycheck to paycheck to take care of themselves and loved ones when needed without sacrificing their jobs or their wages.

The FAMILY Act creates a self-sustaining family insurance program for all workers - young and elderly, single and married, and men and women, regardless of the size of their employer. The legislation is modeled after successful state programs and would provide up to 66 percent wage-replacement for 12 weeks in the event of a serious personal or family medical emergency.