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Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Representing the 14th District of Michigan

Opinion: Paid family and medical leave levels playing field for families of color

March 7, 2020
In The News

This week, all eyes are on Michigan as voters cast ballots in the Democratic presidential primary. With Detroit’s substantial African American voting bloc, it’s critical that candidates vying for the White House explain how they will advance racial justice, tackle persistent health and economic disparities, and strengthen the financial security of Black families here and across the country. One of the key economic issues impacting the well-being of Black families is the lack of access to paid family and medical leave. Today, only 19% of all workers have paid family leave through an employer. While the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family and medical caregiving needs, FMLA leave is inaccessible for 65 percent of Black workers in Michigan. As a result, when a family welcomes a new child or faces a serious medical event, many workers will have to forfeit a paycheck to address their caregiving needs.