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Tell Congress the Time is NOW for Paid Family Leave
The percentage of women in the U.S. workforce has increased dramatically over the last century. With more than half of all mothers with children younger than 12 months employed, breastfeeding families are facing significant challenges. Employed mothers are at particular risk for not meeting their own breastfeeding goals.
Rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration are higher in employed women with access to longer maternity leave, but taking leave is simply not an option for many families. Unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides important job protections, but it is available to fewer than 50 percent of workers—and many can’t afford to take it.
Set to be introduced into Congress this fall, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) would create a national insurance program that would support workers and businesses by providing eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave for their own serious illness or that of a child, parent, or spouse; the birth or adoption of a child; the injury of a family member in the military; or exigencies arising from a servicemember's deployment. This program would apply to workers in all companies, no matter their size.
Based on successful programs in California and New Jersey, the FAMILY Act would be entirely self-funded by employer and employee contributions of two-tenths of one percent of a worker's wages. It would apply to all workers who qualify for Social Security disability benefits, regardless of age, full-time status, or income level, providing benefits equal to 2/3 of an individual’s typical monthly wages, up to a cap.
Access to paid family leave is linked to greater income stability for families, reduced employee turnover and worker replacement costs for employers, and a reduced need for public assistance. More people staying in their jobs means more people paying taxes. Women with longer maternity leaves are more likely to combine breastfeeding and employment. In a survey of 712 mothers, each week of maternity leave increased the duration of breastfeeding by almost one-half week. For all of these reasons, The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding calls for the establishment of paid maternity leave for all employed mothers.
That's why we need YOUR help building support for paid leave and gaining original co-sponsors for the FAMILY Act. Help us tell Congress how paid leave benefits families, employers, and the economy!.
There are two easy ways to take action:
- Tweet key Congressional targets: Click on the "Tweet now" links below to send customized Twitter messages to priority members of Congress. With Twitter, you don’t have to be limited to only your legislators: consider sending messages to legislators from several states in your region, or to those that are starred (key committee members). Note: If you don't already have a Twitter account, the links will first walk you through easy account setup steps.
- Visit your legislators while they are home "in district" during the August Congressional recess: The USBC, MomsRising, National Partnership for Women & Families, and National WIC Association hosted the "Action for the Summer Recess" webinar on August 8. Access the recording, slides, and toolkit materials to find everything you'll need to prepare for a visit with your legislator.
Customized Twitter Message Tool
Message 1: In CA, access to #PaidLeave doubled the median duration of #breastfeeding http://bit.ly/19dls8G #NBM13 #PaidLeaveNOW
Message 2: #PaidLeave helps new moms establish #breastfeeding w/o risking econ security http://bit.ly/13RvwQc #NBM13 #PaidLeaveNow
Message 3: "My maternity leave was crucial to my #breastfeeding success" http://bit.ly/16DdUf2 #NBM13 #PaidLeaveNOW
 Arthur CR, Saenz RB, Replogle WH. The employment-related breastfeeding decisions of physician mothers. J Miss State Med Assoc. 2003;44(12):383-387.
 Roe B, Whittington LA, Fein SB, Teisl MF. Is there competition between breast-feeding and maternal employment? Demography. 1999;36(2):157-171.