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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 9, 2001


The first legislation I signed as President was the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows workers to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave to care for a seriously ill child, spouse or parent, a newborn, newly adopted or newly placed child, or for their own serious health problem, without fear of losing their jobs. This law was an important step forward in helping America's working families balance the competing demands of work and family. Since then, I am proud to say that more than 35 million working Americans have taken leave for family and medical reasons since 1993.

In 1996, the bipartisan Commission on Family and Medical Leave issued a report assessing family and medical leave policies. The Commission found that the FMLA was working well for both workers and employers. Today, the U. S. Department of Labor released the results of its new surveys, which updated the Commission's work. Once again, the data show that the Family and Medical Leave Act remains a balanced approach to meeting the needs of workers and employers. We know that when needed most, covered and eligible workers were able to take this benefit -- in fact, more than 15 million have done so since January 1999, the period covered by this survey.

FMLA has given millions of workers the ability to care for their seriously ill child, spouse or parent, or stay home with their newborn child, without worrying about whether their job will be there when they return. Our work is not done, however. We must now build on the success of FMLA by giving more workers the protections of the Act and finding new ways to provide paid leave to those workers who need to take off but cannot afford to do so.