Large number of House Dems call for universal paid family and medical leave

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Washington — A group of 88 House Democrats is calling for the inclusion of “universal, comprehensive” paid family and medical leave in any potential infrastructure package.

In a letter dated July 16 and addressed to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the group contends that 79% of U.S. workers, or more than 100 million people, don’t have paid family leave and 60% don’t have access to paid medical leave. The letter adds that access rates are even lower for employees in jobs with lower wages.

In addition, the lawmakers say that 44% of workers aren’t eligible to take “job-protected leave” under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993: “This means that when serious personal or family health needs inevitably arise, people face impossible choices between their families’ well-being, their financial security and their jobs.”


The group is calling for 12 weeks of paid leave for all employees “regardless of where they live or work,” and that the paid leave be for “all purposes covered by the [FMLA].” They include:

  • The birth of a child
  • Caring for a worker’s own “serious medical condition”
  • Caring for a family member’s medical condition
  • Certain military caregiving or other urgent purposes

“We also strongly support President Biden’s inclusion of leave to deal with domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault, as well as three days of bereavement leave,” the lawmakers write. “As we work to rebuild our economy, we must address structural inequities that were major drivers of crisis and economic instability in the pandemic. Investments in care infrastructure and policies that support workers, such as paid leave, are critical to an equitable recovery for all workers.”

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