Purchase, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) have announced legislation that would create paid family and medical leave.

The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, ensuring that American workers would no longer have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or a family member.

“When a young parent needs time to care for a newborn child – it should never come down to an outdated policy that lets her boss decide how long it will take – and decide the fate of her career and her future along with it. When any one of us – man or woman – needs time to care for a dying parent – we should not have to sacrifice our job and risk our future to do the right thing for our family. Choosing between your loved ones and your career and your future is a choice no one should have to make,” said Senator Gillibrand.

“All too often, hard-working people see their career put in jeopardy because of the demands of family. For too many Americans, caring for a newborn child or an ill loved one means giving up a paycheck – or even their job. None of our neighbors, friends, loved ones, or coworkers should ever face that choice,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland), the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. “Congress has the responsibility to provide our workers the support they need to manage the demands of jobs and family. It is time for us to meet that responsibility and pass the FAMILY Act.”

Current Family and Medical Leave law provides unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health related events for about half of the workforce. The other half don’t qualify for unpaid leave, and many cannot afford to take it because it is unpaid. Only 12% of workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave through their employers, and less than 40% of workers have access to personal medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance.

The FAMILY Act aims to create an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration to collect fees and provide benefits. This trust would be funded by employee and employer contributions of 0.2% of wages each, in an attempt to create a self-sufficient program that would not add to the federal budget. The expected cost to the average worker would be similar to the expense of a cup of coffee a week.

Benefit levels, modeled on existing successful state programs in New Jersey and California, would equal 66% of an individual’s typical monthly wages up to a capped monthly amount that would be indexed for inflation.

The proposal would make leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer and regardless of whether such individual is currently employed by an employer, self-employed or currently unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history.