Twenty-one years ago, a worker could be fired, demoted, or otherwise disciplined for taking unpaid time off work to recover from the birth of a child, to care for a seriously ill loved one, or to recover from an illness. Thanks to nine years of efforts by policymakers and activists, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has protected over 35 million workers since 1993, ensuring they were able to keep their jobs and health insurance while they weathered a health crisis or cared for a new baby.
Employers also benefit: workers who are able to take time away when they need it are more likely to return to their jobs. As a result, employers save between 17 and 31 percent of employees’ annual earnings when they don’t have to replace experienced workers. Employers also benefit from higher worker productivity and morale. By all accounts, the last 21 years of the FMLA represent incredible progress for workers.