After 22 years, 200 million women and men have taken FMLA leave

February 2015 marks the 22nd anniversary of President Bill Clinton’s signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, women and men who needed to care for their health or their families’ health have used the law more than 200 million times since 1993.

The FMLA has been a successful law that enables workers to take medical leave without having to worry about losing their jobs or facing economic insecurity. However, as the National Partnership says, “the FMLA was always meant to be a first step on a path toward a family friendly America.”

Not every worker is eligible for FMLA leave. One of our recent posts has more on employee and employer criteria for FMLA eligibility. Given those criteria, about 40 percent of workers are not covered under the law.

Additionally, according to a Department of Labor survey, the most common reason that workers do not take FMLA leave when they need it is because they can’t afford to. FMLA leave provides job security, but the leave is unpaid.

The law is also not suited to the various kinds of family situations in the U.S. today. The FMLA covers leave for the medical care of parents, spouses and children, but not siblings, domestic partners, in-laws, grandparents and grandchildren.

The National Partnership recommends a number of policy changes to address the needs of today’s families.

If you have questions about whether you are currently eligible for FMLA leave, then our FMLA overview may prove helpful.

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