A New York Senator says people shouldn't have to choose between taking care of their family and keeping their job. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a bill to make paid family medical leave mandatory.
Kristin Devoe knows how tough it can be to be forced to decide between her family's medical needs and her job. In December 2012, her then 3-year old daughter, Malyiah, suffered superficial burns covering 30% of her body.
“When she was hospitalized for 5 weeks, my job temporarily found another employee to replace me,” explained Kristin Devoe. “Five months after being out of work, I decided to go back to work and found out that I had no job."
Stories like hers are the inspiration behind U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Family & Medical Insurance Leave Act.
Gillibrand introduced the bill in Plattsburgh on Tuesday. It would guarantee 12 weeks of paid medical leave for new moms or those taking care of a sick family member.
“This bill doesn't add one dime to the deficit,” said (D – NY) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “It's an earned benefit that we all buy into over the course of our working careers. It's not a lot of money. It's the cost of a cup of coffee a week."
The program would work much like Social Security.
Working Americans would pay 0.2% of their paycheck each week towards an independent trust fund. Employers would then match that. When accessed, recipients would be paid 66% of their income or up to a monthly capped amount that would change with inflation.
The checks would come from the Social Security Administration.
"This FAMILY Act will really provide my staff and employees everywhere with the ability to be great at both of these jobs: their day jobs as breadwinners and their care-giving roles at home,” said Jamie Basiliere, Executive Director of the Childcare Coordinating Council of the North Country.
Senator Gillibrand told a group at the Family Connections Resource Center that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a mandatory paid medical leave program.
“In today's economy, only 12% of our workers in America have access to paid family leave,” said Sen. Gillibrand.
“You can't work and you have other children to take care of and you have no income and your job is replaced and you have no place to turn. So even though this will not solve all of these problems, it will definitely help,” said Kristin Devoe.
A similar bill has also been introduced in the U.S. House by Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.