National WIC Association

NWA Celebrates 30 Years of the Family and Medical Leave Act

February 6, 2023

The National WIC Association (NWA) celebrates the 30th anniversary of the historic Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton on February 5, 1993. This legislation allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to address family and medical concerns and was a first step in providing job protections for employees needing such leave. No Americans should have to choose between their jobs and caring for themselves or their families. 

FMLA’s Importance to Women, Infants, & Children 

Before 1993, only 13 states and Washington D.C. had maternity-leave protections that allowed mothers to take time off during pregnancy and after childbirth and still have their health insurance and the ability to go back to work.

Now with FMLA, eligible parents are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. They can use this time for needs related to health care, childbirth, newborn care, adoption, foster care, and more. As of 2012, 21% of the 20 million people who used FMLA did so for the birth of a child or child adoption. Job and health insurance protections have given parents and their children the space needed to create strong bonds. With this time off, parents can get the proper care, nutrition, and support they need post-birth and families have more time to create strong bonds.

Ways FMLA Has Benefitted Families

Alleviating anxiety. Employees don’t have to worry about working or losing their job while taking care of themselves and/or loved ones. They can now focus on their family emergency without stressing over their job. 

Promoting employment equality. Enables all employees to have equal opportunities. Before FMLA, women had to leave the workforce after giving birth. Now they’re able to come back to work after spending valuable bonding time with their newborn. 

Maintaining group health insurance. Employees that get health insurance coverage from their employers continue that coverage on the same terms during and after their leave. 

Job-protection. Employees are entitled to reinstatement to their job or an equivalent job when they return to work from their leave. 

As we celebrate the Family and Medical Act of 1993 and its positive impacts on our nation’s families, it’s important to remember those who don’t have access to these protections. Almost half of American workers – 44% – are not eligible for the FMLA. Contact your members of Congress and tell them to expand access to job-protected leave and support paid family and medical leave for all workers!

For more information regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act and your eligibility, click here.