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NH Moms: Family Leave Should Protect All Workers

Only about 60 percent of workers are able to take time away from work without losing their job to care for a loved one under the Family and Medical Leave Act. (Brianna Privett/Flickr)
Only about 60 percent of workers are able to take time away from work without losing their job to care for a loved one under the Family and Medical Leave Act. (Brianna Privett/Flickr)
February 7, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. – The Family and Medical Leave Act marks its 25th anniversary this week.

Some New Hampshire moms say it's an opportunity to reflect on how the legislation could be updated to better serve all families.

The law guarantees certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year, without the threat of losing their job.

But Christina D'Allesandro, New Hampshire director of the group Moms Rising, notes only about 60percent of workers are eligible – either because their employers aren't covered by the law or they can't afford to take time off without pay.

"The anniversary is significant because 25 years ago, we all saw it as a great first step, but we're stuck in the same place, 25 years later,” she states. “It's time to move these policies out of this Jurassic era and move them forward."

Meanwhile in New Hampshire, House lawmakers are expected to vote soon on House Bill 628, which would create a state program with up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave for workers who are new parents, have a serious health problem or are providing care for a relative.

D'Allesandro says the state legislation is an important step forward, but contends a federal policy is needed to ensure all workers are covered.

Jacqueline Sillvani of Newmarket says job security is crucial for families during medical leave. Her son needed 18 months of pediatric cancer treatments, so she took a year off work.

Sillvani was surprised to find her position was not renewed when she returned.

"I was left trying to find a job with a sick kid,” she relates. “So, it would have been really helpful for us to have had some protections that extended past the 12 weeks as it is right now. No cancer treatment is 12 weeks long. And even for having a baby, 12 weeks isn't really enough."

D'Allesandro adds that paid family leave policies should be flexible enough to address various family situations, and accessible to parents and all caregivers.

"In a state like New Hampshire, where the opioid epidemic is having a huge impact on the state and on caregivers, this is something that could really be a benefit to grandparents who suddenly are thrown into providing care for grandchildren," she points out.

President Donald Trump called for supporting paid family leave during his State of the Union address last week.

The U.S. is the only developed nation without a paid family leave policy.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NH