A Note From The CEO: A Personal Note On Federal Family Leave Policy

A Note From The CEO: A Personal Note On Federal Family Leave Policy

I had the privilege of taking “paid leave” with both of my daughters. For me, "paid leave" meant meticulously saving vacation and sick hours over many years before starting a family.  I recall female colleagues advising me, "If you plan to have a baby, start hoarding those hours!"


With both of my children, I took the full twelve weeks.  But each return was emotionally (and sometimes physically) painful.  I wanted to return to work but felt devastated to drop my baby off at daycare and put them in the arms of near strangers. 


Then there was the ordeal of pumping. Day in and day out, three to four times a day, for thirty minutes each session. A few months into my return to work, I found myself staying late to assist a client experiencing suicidal thoughts, ensuring their safety until help arrived.


The memory is so visceral.  I could feel my breasts swelling with milk as I sat with this person, silently praying that I wasn't leaking through my shirt.  When my supervisor called to check on us, I blurted out, "My boobs are about to explode!"


Thankfully, the individual reached the hospital safely. And my boobs didn’t explode.


This is just one of many experiences that emphasizes the importance of family leave policy and ensuring parents get time with their babies as well as time to let their body and mind heal.  Some experts say that it can take up two years to heal from childbirth.  And this doesn't take into account the emotional changes and adaptations that a family makes when welcoming a new person into the family.


Understanding Federal Family Paid Leave:


At the federal level, the United States does not have a comprehensive paid family leave policy that covers all workers. However, there are certain provisions and programs in place to support employees during significant life events such as childbirth, adoption, or caring for a sick family member.


  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):
    • Enacted in 1993, the FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year.
    • FMLA applies to public agencies, private sector employers with 50 or more employees, and some federal employers.
    • Eligible employees can take FMLA leave for reasons such as the birth and care of a newborn child, placement of a child for adoption or foster care, caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or addressing their own serious health condition.
  • Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees:
    • Since 2020, federal civilian employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child.
    • This benefit is provided under the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) and applies to all federal employees, including those working for the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
  • State-Level Paid Family Leave Programs:
    • While federal law sets the baseline for unpaid leave through FMLA, several states have implemented their own paid family leave programs to provide wage replacement during eligible leave periods.
    • States such as California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington, among others, have established paid family leave programs that offer partial wage replacement for qualifying employees.




Introduced as S.1714 in the Senate and H.R. 3481 in the House of Representatives, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act is a proposed piece of legislation aimed at providing comprehensive paid family and medical leave nationwide. The FAMILY Act would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, offering workers up to 12 weeks of partial income when they take time off for their own serious health condition, the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. This program would be funded through small employer and employee payroll contributions, similar to other social insurance programs.


Status of the FAMILY Act:


As of the current status, the FAMILY Act has garnered support from various lawmakers, advocacy groups, and stakeholders. However, it has not yet been passed into law. The bill has seen multiple introductions in Congress, reflecting ongoing efforts to advance paid family leave legislation at the federal level. While the path forward for the FAMILY Act remains uncertain, its existence underscores the growing recognition of the need for comprehensive paid family and medical leave policies in the United States.

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