As the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) celebrates its 26th anniversary today (Feb. 5, 2019), movement is afoot in Congress to supplant the non-paid leave of the FMLA with paid leave under proposed legislation titled the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act.

fmla-celebrates-26th-anniversaryThe proposed bill will be introduced in both houses in the near future, according to supporters.

The FAMILY Act builds on paid-leave initiatives in California and other states. As a starter, California expanded its temporary disability program into a paid family leave program that pays low-income workers up to 70 percent of their wages while on leave to care for themselves or their loved ones.

Since California paved the way, six other states and the District of Columbia have enacted paid leave laws. This year, similar laws are expected to be seriously considered in Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont.

It is estimated that 44 percent of all U.S. workers are not covered by the FMLA because either their companies are too small (FMLA applies only to businesses with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius) or they haven’t worked at their companies the required 12 months to qualify.