64% of North Carolinians Still Unable to Access Unpaid Leave for Caregiving needs

RALEIGH (February 2, 2018) This Monday, February 5th, marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an important law that has been used over 200 million times and helped many families as they welcomed new children, cared for seriously ill loved ones, or recovered from their own serious injuries or illnesses.

Yet, FMLA alone is insufficient to meet the needs of modern families and fails to reflect our nation’s changing workforce. FMLA doesn’t cover all working people and only provides those eligible with 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Millions of those eligible to use FMLA can’t because they are unable to afford unpaid time away from work, while only 15 percent of working people right now have access to paid family and medical leave through their employer.

In North Carolina, even unpaid leave under the federal FMLA is inaccessible for 64 percent of working people, leaving North Carolinians with impossible choices between work and family responsibilities.

“It’s unbelievable that we are the only industrialized nation in the world that fails to offer some form of paid leave,” said Ana Pardo, coordinator of the statewide NC Families Care Coalition on paid leave and other workplace policies for the NC Justice Center. “The FMLA was a landmark policy a quarter of a century ago, but it’s time to finish the task of making sure working people can take care of themselves and their family members in the event of a new baby or health crisis.”

In the 25 years since the passage of FMLA, six states and the District of Columbia have moved forward to fill the gap with state paid family and medical leave insurance programs, and more are studying what it would take to implement such a program. While a national program for all our nation’s workers is needed, North Carolina can’t afford to be left behind. Both state and federal lawmakers owe it to their constituents to address this significant and growing need.

For more information, contact: Ana Pardo, Campaign & Outreach Coordinator, Workers’ Rights Project, NC Justice Center, (919) 818-5933, Ana.Pardo@ncjustice.org or Beth Messersmith, NC Campaign Director for MomsRising.org, at (919) 323-6179 or Beth@momsrising.org

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The NC Families Care Campaign is a growing statewide coalition of organizations and individuals who are leading the effort to make North Carolina more family-friendly. Working together, community, religious, labor, healthcare, professional, and family groups are advocating for North Carolina employees to earn paid sick days so they can take care of themselves or their family members when illness strikes and be able to access paid family and medical leave. The partners that make up the NC Families Care Campaign come from diverse backgrounds and from all over North Carolina but are united in their commitment to valuing working families.

he North Carolina Justice Center is the state’s leading research and advocacy organization dedicated to transforming North Carolina’s prosperity into opportunity for all. Our mission is to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs in order to enjoy economic security.

MomsRising.org is an online and on-the-ground grassroots organization of more than a million people who are working to achieve economic security for all families in the United States. MomsRising is working for paid family leave, flexible work options, affordable childcare, and for an end to the wage and hiring discrimination which penalizes so many others. MomsRising also advocates for better childhood nutrition, health care for all, toxic-free environments, and breastfeeding rights so that all children can have a healthy start. Established in 2006, MomsRising and its members are organizing and speaking out to improve public policy and to change the national dialogue on issues that are critically important to America’s families. In 2013, Forbes.com named MomsRising’s web site as one of the Top 100 Websites For Women for the fourth year in a row and Working Mother magazine included MomsRising on its “Best of the Net” list. MomsRising also maintains a Spanish language website: MamásConPoder.