Thirty Years After the FMLA, Lawmakers Must Guarantee Paid Leave for People Facing Violence
When President Clinton made the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) the first bill he signed into law 30 years ago this week, it was a transformative moment—the first time our country’s laws recognized that working people are also family caregivers and human beings who face illness themselves.
While it was an important first step, the FMLA was not enough, then or now. In 2021, nearly half the civilian workforce was not covered by the FMLA ,and millions of workers simply can’t afford to take the unpaid leave the law provides. Further, leave is not available to people subjected to domestic and sexual violence if they need time off to go to court or seek other protections or support, which can cost them their jobs.
That’s why it is so important that every state consider adopting what is known as safe leave—leave for a worker subjected to sexual or domestic violence to seek a restraining order, relocate to safety or take other protective measures—or help a close family member do so. This leave must also be paid.