FAMILY Act

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Last week, an In These Times piece by Sharon Lerner presented an alarming statistics: Nearly one in four employed US mothers return to work within two weeks after giving birth.

Despite the brunches, flower sales, and media attention lavished on moms each Mother’s Day, US policy doesn’t express as much appreciation for mothers (or fathers) as it should.

In last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama addressed several ways to “make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.” Legislation already introduced in Congress would raise the minimum wage, expand access to paid sick days, and create a social insurance system for paid medical and family leave — but Congress hasn’t voted on the bills. In the absence of federal action, state and local governments are stepping up.

New legislation from Senator Gillibrand and Representative DeLauro would establish a national insurance system that would replace a portion of workers’ wages while they take time off to deal with a serious health issue or care for a family member.