Celebrating Mothers, Supporting Families

by Latifa Lyles on May 13, 2013 · 2 comments

Mother’s Day is the time we show our mothers and grandmothers how much we appreciate them and the sacrifices they made to take care of us. Most of us had no idea growing up what it took for our parents and other caregivers to balance family, work and life responsibilities.

In the past 20 years, workers have used FMLA leave more than 100 million times, secure in the knowledge that their job would still be there upon their return.

Thanks to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, many working women have been afforded unpaid time off to care for our children and other family members without worrying about the loss of our jobs or health insurance benefits.

But for the working women of my mother’s generation, no such protection existed − the FMLA was only passed 20 years ago, in 1993. Employees were rarely able to take leave to care for an ill family member. Women who wanted to have a career as well as a child were often not given any accommodation to take time off to give birth and rear their newborns. If a worker needed to take time off for one of these important reasons, there was no guarantee she or he would not be fired.

Today there are 72.6 million women who work outside the home. A growing number of these women have children under the age of 18 (almost 71 percent), are single mothers with children under the age of 18 (almost 76 percent) or are caring for someone who is ill, disabled or aged. We know women still face many barriers to full participation in the workforce, and there is a continuing need to adopt practices that meet working mothers’ (and fathers’) needs in the 21st-century workplace and beyond.

Since 1993, we know FMLA leave has been used more than 100 million times, and has made a tremendous difference in the lives of millions of workers. We also know that the FMLA has not imposed an undue burden on employers, based on the results of a recent survey.

This Sunday, we wished moms everywhere a happy Mother’s Day. In the days and weeks that follow, let us recommit ourselves to the beliefs that inspired the FMLA, and renew our efforts to create fairer and healthier workplaces for working women.

Latifa Lyles is acting director of the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathleen Hart June 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I agree there are holes in the FLMA Act. My son who is 32 had a heart attack due to an anomaly of his heart, one of many from birth. He has had 36 surgeries over his lifetime and still lives at home. When he had his heart attack I was told to apply for FLMA, however they would only cover the trip to the hospital, the trip home and one doctor visit. I was denied the other days needed to be with him to discuss his history with the physicians at the hospital that did not have access to his pediatric surgery records. It seems that for elder care your covered, under 18 your covered, but families with disabled children, now adults, who have emergency care, you are denied. You have to fight for your rights when you are at a critical time with your family. As a divorced Mother who raised two boys for over 18 years, it is a difficult pill to swallow when your coverage is denied.

2 Juliette Douglas June 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I am old enough to remember life for a woman before FMLA. I had two pregnancies in the 60′s. Both times I had to resign from work while I was pregnant. When I was ready to work (about six weeks after delivering), I had to look for a new job and apply for whatever was available at that time, even though I returned to work with the same county government.

I am glads my girls don’t have to deal with this. Thanks to all those who helped implement FMLA.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: