Paid family medical leave is a critical component of reproductive freedom, and everyone deserves the dignity and financial stability that this program offers. Without it, mothers don’t have the time needed to heal from childbirth, and families don’t have time to bond with their new babies; families may face greater challenges in creating stable and nurturing homes for their children; and working people sometimes must risk their livelihoods to care for sick or injured family members.
Caring for a family is important work, and shouldn’t mean compromising our economic security. Our workplace and public policies have not kept pace with the growing number of working parents. We are behind the rest of the world as it relates to Paid Family and Medical Leave; the United States is one of only a few countries in the world that does not provide paid maternity leave to working mothers, and one of only a few rich nations that does not guarantee the right to paid leave for fathers or workers who are providing care for seriously ill family members.
Current law is woefully inadequate. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires larger employers to allow a new parent up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth of a child. That means the law only guarantees that new parents can take time off from work if they can afford to do so.
Currently, only 13% of people have access to paid family leave at work and while 60% of Oregon workers have access to unpaid family and medical leave through the Oregon Family and Medical Leave Act (OFLA), many cannot afford to take unpaid leave (and 40% of Oregonians are excluded from even this protection because of the size of their employer or their part-time status).
All workers in Oregon should be able to take paid family and medical leave after the birth or adoption of a new child, for their own serious illness or to care for a family member with a serious illness. Self-employed Oregonians should also be able to opt into the program.