20 years ago today President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which allows employers to take 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave within a 12-month work period to care for newborn baby or a sick family member. When it was enacted, it became the country’s first family leave policy on the books.
Former Conn. Senator Chris Dodd co-authored the original legislation. At a U.S. Department of Labor event celebrating the bill’s 20th anniversary, Dodd said the bill that gave him the most satisfaction in 36 years was the FMLA.
After the initial bill, Dodd later pushed for an expansion that would allow workers to take paid leave, strengthening the safety net for low-income workers who cannot afford to lose wages by taking time off. Connecticut passed the nation’s first paid leave law in 2011, which allows service workers to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year. The state has also expanded the FMLA to allow same-sex partners to take unpaid leave.