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As the FMLA Turns 30, SHRM Announces Framework for National Paid Leave

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In recognition of the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on Feb. 5, SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) announced a framework for national paid leave that has the potential to increase access to compensated leave for workers and achieve continuity with benefits offered by employers in different states and jurisdictions.

Signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, the FMLA requires qualified employers to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to eligible employees recovering from a medical condition, caring for sick family members or bonding with a newborn or adopted child. But many businesses—around 40 percent—are not covered by this landmark legislation.

SHRM calls on Congress to create an optional national paid family and medical leave insurance market.

"SHRM is engaging with lawmakers from both parties to create a system where workers and employers can tap into pooled resources to expand access and reduce risk," said Chief of Staff and Head of Public Affairs Emily M. Dickens. "This requires a framework that can accommodate differences in work environments, industries and organizational size. As the FMLA turns 30, it is time to modernize our approach to family and medical leave. By advancing our recommendations, the federal government can remove barriers to success for workers caring for loved ones and employers that are unable to self-fund this vital benefit in order to retain top talent."

The following are SHRM's Paid Leave Principles:

  • The creation of an insurance market for paid family and medical leave could potentially increase the availability of such programs for independent workers and small employers that lack the ability to self-fund.
  • The use of a voluntary insurance-based approach would expand access to paid family and medical leave by allowing the financial burden to be shared among a group of employers instead of being borne by a single employer.
  • The implementation of regulatory consistency would reduce administrative costs, increase participation by large employers and insulate the market from risk.
  • The adoption of an "actuarially equivalent standard" with appropriate safeguards would allow for flexibility in benefit design at the organizational level.

 "Employers are looking to leave to fight burnout and promote employee well-being, but the cost is prohibitive for many organizations, and we have seen leave for new parents return to pre-pandemic levels," said Dickens. "SHRM's Paid Leave Principles are a way to increase access to leave and reduce risk for employers and employees alike. On behalf of our more than 318,000 members, we look forward to building consensus for this approach on Capitol Hill."
About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies rely on SHRM to be their go-to resource for all things work and their business partner in creating next-generation workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.


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