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Analysis: Virginia workers, families need paid leave

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An analysis of demographic data in Virginia reveals the significant and growing need for a national paid family and medical leave plan that covers all working people in the state for the full range of serious caregiving and medical reasons.

The new state-by-state analysis, released Monday by the National Partnership for Women & Families, comes as the House Ways and Means Committee begins today to consider federal paid leave proposals and one week ahead of the 27th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The momentum for a national paid leave policy is growing. In the past year alone, Connecticut and Oregon became the eighth and ninth states to enact paid leave policies; the federal government will now offer paid parental leave to millions of federal workers; and governors in New Mexico and Tennessee announced plans to provide paid family leave to state employees.

Despite these advances, the Virginia analysis sheds light on why this piecemeal approach still leaves millions behind. Working Virginians continue to experience conflicts between their jobs and their families.

Specifically:

  • The FMLA is inaccessible to 55percent of workers in Virginia because they either are not covered by the law or cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides.
  • In 72 percent of Virginia households with children – more than 1.2 million homes – all parents hold jobs;
  • In less than 15 years, the share of Virginia’s population age 65 and older will grow by nearly 30 percent;
  • A national paid leave plan would reduce the number of working families in Virginia facing significant economic insecurity when they need to take family and medical leave by 83 percent.

“Twenty-seven years after the FMLA was signed into law, the newly-released data make clear that too many women, workers and families continue to be left behind,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “A strong national paid family and medical leave policy could help combat race- and gender-based disparities, save U.S. businesses turnover and recruitment costs, and grow our economy. It is time to fulfill the FMLA’s promise of greater equality at work and at home. We urge the House of Representatives to support and pass the FAMILY Act.”

Similar findings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia can be found at NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeaveMeansMap.


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