Family & Medical Leave Act of 1993

Many people had felt that the existing maternity leave programs were flawed, and that changed needed to be made. One of the first to recognize the problem was Congressman, Howard Berman in 1984. He talked to the National Partnership for Women & Families, which at that time was the Women’s Legal Defense Fund. There was no national programs for it, only some state and employer programs. Also, they felt there should be time off for care of adopted children, and family illness. People wanted a leave program for caring for children, and other relatives that did not discriminate certain genders. This would also allow for men to have leave for the care of their children. Civil rights activists had greatly advocated for leave for caring for family members with serious illnesses.

The Women’s Legal Defense fund had started making a bill that would require employers to grant maternity leave in 1984. They started a coalition called the Family and Medical Leave Coalition. “Early members of the Family and Medical Leave Coalition included feminist law professors, the Association of Junior Leagues, the Children's Defense Fund, and the League of Women Voters. Over time it grew to include the American Association of Retired Persons, Alzheimer's Association, Catholic Conference, Hadassah, United Steelworkers of America, American Academy of Pediatrics, and more than 100 other groups focused on women, children and seniors, and on issues of labor, disability, religion, and civil rights.” Their nine-year campaign gained support using their common ground with politicians regarding their family values. They used employer who advocated for FMLA, and family members who shared their stories to add some reality and empathy to the issue.

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Every year from 1984- 1993 the FMLA policy was taken to Congress. It was turned down by Congress in 1984- 1990. In 1990 it was passed by Congress, then vetoed by President Bush. Finally, in 1993, it was signed into law by President Clinton. FMLA is a regulatory distributive policy.
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FMLA means that people can take an unpaid leave of their job without having to worry about losing their job or losing health insurance. Those eligible have 12 work weeks of leave in a 12 month period. They can use their FMLA for care of a newborn, care for a newly adopted or foster child, and care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent with a serious medical condition. It can also be used for themselves to get treatment for a serious health condition that affects their ability to properly do their job. They can also get 26 week leave to care for a spouse, child, parent, or next of kin who is a servicemember with a serious injury or illness.
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Since it has been passed into law in 1993 and up until 2001, approximately 35 million men and women have used FMLA. “A 1998 survey of businesses with 100 or more employees (all covered by the law) found that 84% reported no costs or actual cost savings as a result of their family and medical leave policies.” Less business are opposed to FMLA compared to when the law was first put into effect. In 1998 a survey was taken of Americans who were familiar with the law, and 88% of them viewed it favorably. Extensive surveys found that the FMLA helped working families without harming the businesses.
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