My name is Jess, and I live in Denver Colorado. When I was three years old, I had a stroke. My Mom was an hourly employee and had to take a ton of time off work to take care of me. Very quickly, she used up the little paid time off she had, and she had to take the leave unpaid. She was worried about not making money, and without protection from the Family and Medical Leave Act, which had not yet been passed, she was worried her employer would even let her go.
My mom has told me how she was forced to worry about our family’s finances at a time when I was still in the hospital recovering. Hard-working Americans like my mom shouldn’t be forced to deal with this kind of financial strain when they are caring for sick loved ones.
My mom is not alone. Today, more than 44 million hard-working people do not have access to a single paid sick day. That means that when they or their family members get sick, they are forced to choose between their family’s financial security and their health. And for too many, taking time off even costs them their job.
The 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act was a great step forward, but half the workforce still isn’t covered. And nearly three million eligible workers each year who need leave to care for their health or the health of a loved one do not take it because they cannot afford to take time off without pay.