Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Unemployment hit a low in January, a law keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers was overturned, and there’s much further to go in the fight for paid leave on the FMLA’s anniversary.
– Anniversary for action. It’s well established that the United States is the wealthiest country in the world without paid family leave. Advocates for paid family leave are still fighting to remove that unfortunate title, after attempts by the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats to enact long-fought-for paid leave policies stalled.
This week, in the meantime, advocates for family leave are taking a moment to acknowledge what the United States does have: the Family and Medical Leave Act. The law marked its 30th anniversary on Sunday. In the three decades since its passage, the FMLA has guaranteed Americans 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recover from illness, care for a family member, or spend time with a new child without the threat of losing their job.
An analysis by the National Partnership for Women and Families found that the FMLA has been used 460 million times since it was signed into law. More than half of those instances were for a worker who was on leave because of their own health. About 20% were for a family’s new child, whether that is after giving birth or welcoming an adopted or foster child.
The FMLA has many gaps. Forty-four percent of workers aren’t eligible because they either work for small employers who are exempt from the law or because they haven’t been at their jobs long enough to qualify, according to the National Partnership. Millions more don’t take the leave the FMLA offers because it is unpaid.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris used the anniversary to revive their administration’s efforts on paid leave. Biden announced a commitment to “passing a national program of paid leave for all.” He and Harris were joined by former President Bill Clinton, whose administration enacted the FMLA. Clinton acknowledged the legislation’s shortcomings. “There’s still a lot of problems that cannot be solved without some form of paid leave,” the former president said.
The FMLA marked a sea change 30 years ago when it was passed. But the U.S. has only fallen further behind on this issue in the decades since. While acknowledging what the law has accomplished, this anniversary is an opportunity to imagine a country 30 years from now that offers working families so much more.
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Grammy night. At last night's Grammy Awards, Beyoncé set a new record as the most decorated artist in the awards' history with 32 wins. But the ceremony failed to award her with Album of the Year for Renaissance, instead giving the trophy to Harry Styles. Viola Davis became an EGOT and Kim Petras was the first trans woman to win a Grammy. New York Times
- 53-year low. The January jobs report shocked experts with more growth than expected as unemployment hit a 53-year low. The unemployment rate for women was even lower than average, at 3.1% compared to 3.4% overall. CNBC
- 'Historical tradition.' A gun control law that has been in place for 30 years was deemed unconstitutional by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that preventing people with restraining orders for domestic violence from owning guns violates the U.S.'s "historical tradition" of firearms. The court cited last year's Supreme Court decision that allowed public carry without a license. Bloomberg Law
- Wisconsin's Supreme Court. The reversal of Roe v. Wade has turned Wisconsin's usually sleepy Supreme Court election into a heated battle. The election will determine the leaning of the seven-person bench as liberals try to overturn the state's 19th-century abortion ban. The 19th
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Judy Marks, chair, CEO, and president of Otis Worldwide Corporation, has joined the board of Caterpillar. Liza Landsman is now CEO at Stash, a fintech company. Klue, a competitive intelligence company, has appointed Clara Smyth as director of competitive enablement services.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Legal battle begins. India is suiting up for the legal fight for same-sex marriage. Four gay couples have filed petitions to the Indian Supreme Court that will be heard next month. If they are successful, India will be the second major Asian economy to legalize same-sex marriage after Taiwan. Associated Press
- Where is the love? More than half of adults under 30 have used dating apps, according to a new Pew study. While more women report experiencing harassment or feeling unsafe while online dating, younger lesbian, gay, and bisexual users were more likely to find lasting love through the apps. Washington Post
- Equal Rights Amendment. An initiative led by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) aims to make the Equal Rights Amendment part of the Constitution, removing deadlines for ratification. The ERA has previously met the requirements to become an official part of the Constitution, but it was blocked by the Trump Administration. Ms. Magazine
ON MY RADAR
The mounting, undeniable Me Too backlash Vox
An oral history of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days Vanity Fair
Who will replace Dianne Feinstein? The Atlantic
We could all learn from Marie Kondo’s untidy pivot Washington Post
“The bittersweet truth about success is that it demands a lot of energy to maintain and achieve ever more.”
—Writer Roxane Gay
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