On February 8, 2018, The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. The FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for personal medical leave or to care for a family member’s medical need. Employees are covered by the FMLA if they have worked for their employer: (1) for at least 12 months, (2) at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and (3) at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Since its passing in 1993, the FMLA has kept millions of workers from losing their jobs. However, the FMLA covers less than sixty percent of the workforce and only guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which many employees cannot afford to take.
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not mandate paid leave for new parents, though five states and the District of Columbia have enacted some version of a paid family leave program. Some corporations have also taken steps to address this issue and have voluntarily adopted a paid family and medical leave program for their employees. However, only 15% of American workers are employed by companies with these programs. A new study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that Americans widely support paid family and medical leave and the issue has received growing support from advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Advocacy organizations, business leaders, corporations, members of Congress, and individuals in the media took this twenty-fifth anniversary as an opportunity to advocate for a national paid family and medical leave act, under the hashtag #FMLA25.