Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which grants job-protected sick leave to those who are recovering or taking care of someone recovering from an illness or those who have had a new child.
The FMLA was signed into law on February 5, 1993 by President Bill Clinton and is still the only piece of legislation designed to help workers manage the balance between work and family life. Under the FMLA, workers can receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave in order to raise a new child within one year of birth or adoption; care for a spouse, child or family member with serious injury or illness; recover from a serious injury or illness; or receive up to twenty-six work weeks within a year when caring for a family member with a serious illness in the military ("military caregiver leave"). In 2010, the FMLA was expanded to include LGBTQ parents as well as relatives who act as primary caregivers. And in 2012, the Department of Labor changed the FMLA to include up to 12 weeks of exigency leave to assist a relative in the armed forces who is deployed on short notice in order to handle financial, legal, or childcare resulting from the deployment.
Despite the multiple gains of the FMLA, nearly half of all families who qualify for medical leave do not take it because they cannot afford [PDF] to take unpaid leave. In fact, according to Bureau of Labor statistics for 2011, 36% of all Americans age 25 -34 and 71% of Americans 15 - 24 did not have any paid sick leave.
Media Resources: The Atlantic 2/5/2013; Department of Labor 2/5/2013; "Family and Medical Leave in 2012: Technical Report" 9/7/2012; "Economic News Release" 8/16/2012; Feminist Newswire 1/31/2012, 6/23/2012
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .