Paid Family and Medical Leave

Twenty-six years ago, on February 5th, 1993, former President Bill Clinton signed the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) into law, which provided workers with unpaid, job-protected leave to recover from a serious medical condition, provide care for a seriously ill family member, or care for a new child. While the FMLA was a landmark piece of legislation in addressing the duel demands of work and family responsibilities, it falls short of providing many working families with the kind of leave they need: paid leave.

Nearly everyone will need time off from work at some point throughout their life to care for a new child or ill family member, or address their own medical emergency – and a person’s job or income should not be on the line when that happens. Paid leave means that workers can take the time away from work that they need without sacrificing their economic security.

TAKE ACTION

Add your voice to the conversation to help advance paid family and medical leave in Ohio.

As we work to advance paid family leave in Ohio, we will be lifting up the voices of those needing or receiving paid leave. Whether you are taking leave to welcome a new child into your family, care for a parent dealing with a serious medical issue, or address your own personal medical emergency, ALL workers need access to comprehensive, inclusive paid family and medical leave. 

Have you ever taken paid or unpaid leave to care for a loved one or yourself, or had someone take leave to care for you? Have you ever needed to take family or medical leave, but found out this was impossible when unpaid leave was your only option? We want to hear from you – help us make a difference in the policy landscape in Ohio by highlighting your paid leave story. You can join us in our fight for comprehensive, inclusive paid family leave legislation by adding your voice to our Story Bank.

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The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without some form of guaranteed, legally-protected paid leave. Because of that shortfall, only about 17 percent of workers have access to paid family leave from their employer, and that drops to a mere four percent of low-wage workers. Paid family and medical leave policies provide workers with financial support that they need to take time off of work to care for a loved one or address their own health issue without risking their economic security.

Paid family and medical leave policies allow for workers to continue earning a percentage of their paycheck while they take time off of work to:

  • Care for and bond with a newborn, newly-adopted child, or newly-placed foster child
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Address one’s own medical health condition

No one should be forced to choose between caring for a loved one and earning a paycheck. Without access to paid family and medical leave, this is the reality for too many Ohio workers. It’s past time that Ohio lawmakers took action to enact a paid leave policy that provides ALL workers with the workplace support they need to balance the demands of work and needs of family.

 


RESOURCES

Innovation Ohio Analysis: The Benefits of Paid Parental Leave

The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network Briefing: ‘25 Years Later’

The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network Fact Sheet: Paid Family and Medical Leave

The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network Guest Blog: Paid Family and Medical Leave is Good for Business 

Policy Matters Ohio Blog Post: Paid family leave pays off, but too few Ohioans have access to it

National Partnership for Women & Families Fact Sheet: Paid Leave Means a Stronger Ohio


GET ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Sample Tweets


Sample #1

Thank you Representatives @Boyd4OH_D9 and @Boggs4Ohio for championing working families by introducing #PaidFamilyLeave legislation in Ohio.


Sample #2

No one should be forced to choose between caring for a loved one and earning a paycheck. Without access to #PaidFamilyLeave, this is the reality for far too many Ohioans. It’s past time for that to change. It’s past time for paid leave.


Sample #3

Access to #PaidFamilyLeave means that working families are no longer forced to choose between the family they love and the income they need. Join the @OhioWPPN’s efforts to advance paid leave policy for all Ohioans: www.womenspublicpolicynetwork.org/paidleave


Sample #4

#PaidFamilyLeave makes business sense: It helps to creates a stronger, more productive workforce, improve employee retention and job satisfaction, attracts and retains top talent, and levels the playing field for small businesses.


Sample #5

Nearly everyone will need time off from work at some point throughout their life to care for a loved one or address their own medical emergency – and a person’s job or income should not be on the line when that happens. That’s why Ohio working families need #PaidFamilyLeave.


Sample #6

For nearly two thirds of Ohioans without access to #PaidFamilyLeave, the impossible choice is between the family they love and the income they need, and our families lose out. Let’s make paid leave a reality for Ohio workers.

 

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#FMLA26 #PaidLeaveMeans #LeadonLeave #FamilyFirst

 

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STORIES

 

LC Johnson
Director of Leadership and Social Justice Programs for YWCA Columbus

“There’s no way I can switch jobs.” I was sitting across from my husband at the dinner table, with tears in my eyes.

I had just come across a job posting that seemed to have been written expressly for me. I had already begun writing the cover letter in my head and knew I could knock the interview out of the park. There was only one issue: I was three months pregnant.

Ultimately, I decided to interview for and accept the new and exciting role. I did not disclose the fact that I was pregnant until after I had accepted the position and although the organization did not have an established maternity leave policy, they were open to allowing me to take as much unpaid leave as I wanted. My husband and I decided on eight weeks – not because that’s the amount we thought would be best for our family but because, between sick time, vacation time, and time donated by generous coworkers, I was able to garner one month of paid leave and an additional month was as much time as we could afford to live on a single paycheck.

While I was excited by my pregnancy and looked forward to becoming a mother, the stress of planning for maternity leave certainly put a damper on what should have been a purely joyful time. (Well, if you consider morning sickness and bathroom trips every five minutes to be “purely” joyful, that is.) Thankfully, my organization was on the cusp of instilling a new family leave policy and after many thoughtful conversations with and between our board and senior leadership team, the organization announced a new policy of four weeks of paid family leave which I was able to take advantage of retroactively.

My story ended up with a happy ending but I think often of all the ways it might not have. If my new employer had guessed about my pregnancy and decided not to offer me the job. (Yes, it’s illegal. Yes, it still happens.) If, after finding out about the pregnancy, they had not been open to me taking extended leave – even unpaid. And finally if my employer – a non-profit organization – had determined that it could not afford this benefit, my situation could have been very different.

As I contemplate what this means for any future children my husband and I may have, there is one thing I know for sure: The health and sustainability of families isn’t something that should be left up to chance.


Heather Whaling
Founder/president of Geben Communication, a PR firm based in Columbus

I went into labor five weeks early, on a highway in rural Ohio. We pulled into the closest hospital, where a sign said horse and buggies to park on the left … cars on the right. This tiny, rural hospital didn’t have the technology, expertise or equipment to deliver my son, who was breach. With contractions minutes apart, we were life-lighted to another hospital.

After an emergency C-section, my son was moved into the NICU, where he spent the next 13 days. For nearly two weeks, I remained singularly focused on doing whatever I could do get him healthy and home. During this time, I never wondered if I’d have a job to go back to or if I’d get paid for this time away from the office.

That’s because in 2009, I launched Geben Communication, a Columbus-based PR agency. I’m the boss. Of course, I’d have a job to go back to, and of course I’d get paid. But, that’s a luxury most Americans don’t have. Only 14% of employees – and only 4% of hourly workers (the people who need it most!) – have access to paid family leave. Giving birth to a child any circumstances is stressful. I can’t imagine going through that period of my life while also panicking about my employment status or wondering how to pay the bills.

This first-hand experienced motivated me to introduce Geben Loves Families, my company’s paid parental leave policy. We provide 10 weeks of paid leave (at 100% of their salary), plus a two-week transition period, for new moms and new dads, whether they give birth or adopt.

While more companies are beginning to offer their own versions of paid leave, it’s not enough. A funded, statewide policy – or better yet, a national policy! – will accelerate progress. Access to paid leave shouldn’t be luck of the draw. It should be a right. We need our legislators to act because paid leave is good for families and good for business.


Trevor Elkins
Mayor, Newburgh Heights, Ohio

The birth of my third daughter really was the impetus for introducing legislation for a paid family leave policy. My wife and I were fortunate to have a disability policy that allowed her to stay home for twelve weeks and still collect about half of her income. I was able to utilize sick time to stay home for the first three. We were luckier than most but still, returning to the office was tough and we actively discussed ways to extend my wife’s leave. Unfortunately, no matter how we did the math, it simply wasn’t feasible. Back to work we went.

This led to conversations about how lucky we actually were and to the importance of time with a newborn. We actively talked about how much of a challenge it must be, especially for those without the means, to leave their baby in the care of a stranger. Then it happened, the moment when I knew I had a responsibility to try to lead on this critical issue.

My wife emailed a story about a couple, in New York City I believe, that experienced the tragedy of losing their newborn on the very first day they took her to daycare. Before their loss, their experience seemed very typical. It was similar to our own in that their FMLA policy was ending and the couple had no choice but to return to work. Maybe it was the similarity but, their heartbreaking story was the final straw. Shortly after, I began drafting a policy for our employees.

With the unanimous consent of the Newburgh Heights village council, our policy took effect. The policy sent a clear message to our workforce that we value them, their families, and the balance between work and their personal lives. In Newburgh Heights, a full-time employee is eligible for six months of paid leave at 100% of their rate of pay. The benefit is for men or women, natural birth or adoptions. Since we’ve adopted the policy, we’ve had two employees take advantage of the benefit and dozens of other communities request details regarding the policy. We’re confident that this small example will become a model for Ohio or even the nation as we begin to recognize as a society the importance of family leave policies.


 

Do you have a paid leave story?