WASHINGTON – Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on February 5, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation that would modernize FMLA for the 21st Century.  The Caring for All Families Act will guarantee small necessities leave and make important updates to the definition of family to ensure a broader range of caregiving relationships are covered by FMLA’s protections.  A 2021 study found that 48 million people in the U.S. provide unpaid care to a friend or family member, and almost 80 percent of them report having routine expenses related to taking care of their loved ones.

“Having been raised by my grandmother, I am personally aware that the nuclear family has changed.  As American families continue to evolve, our family and medical leave policies must meet the needs of today’s workers.  Unfortunately, our current laws fall short,” said Congresswoman Hayes.  “The Caring for All Families Act builds upon the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act to give flexibility to workers to care for a loved one when they need it the most.  I thank Senator Durbin for his partnership on this issue and look forward to collaborating on additional efforts to protect the rights of workers."

“No one should have to choose between caring for a loved one and losing their job,” said Senator Durbin.  “As family caregiving needs increase, we have to update our laws so they fit the needs of 21st century families.  I thank Congresswoman Hayes for joining me in this effort to expand family leave job protections by ensuring all workers have the same rights to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities.”

The Caring for All Families Act would: 

  • Update the FMLA’s definition of family to include a domestic partner, parent-in-law, aunt, uncle, sibling, adult child, grandparent, grandchild, son- or daughter-in-law, and other significant relationship; and
  • Guarantee that parents and other family caregivers have the ability to take time off to attend a medical appointment or school function, such as a parent-teacher conference, without risk of losing their job.  

The Caring for All Families Act is cosponsored in the House by Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-12), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Lauren Underwood IL-14), Cori Bush (MO-01), and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC).

In the Senate, the Caring for All Families Act is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Peter Welch (D-VT).

Family caregiving needs have changed dramatically in recent years and are expected to increase in the coming years.  By 2034, adults over the age of 65 are projected to outnumber children in the United States for the first time in history.  Already, 7.8 million children live in households led by a grandparent or other relative.  As family structures change and caregiving needs increase, so should the laws designed to help these families.

Roughly 53 million family members, partners, or friends provide care to adults in the United States, with 61 percent of family caregivers also working.  Many caregivers provide support to both children and an aging family member.  Women compose roughly 61 percent of caregivers, and approximately 58 percent of those women are also employed. Women who are family caregivers face significant challenges, including loss of retirement savings and lower potential lifetime earnings.  Women caregivers are also 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty.

The Caring for All Families Act is endorsed by the following organizations: National Partnership for Women & Families, Movement Advancement Project, Women Employed, YWCA USA, MomsRising, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Women’s Law Project, National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Women International, National Women’s Law Center, Association of maternal & Child Health Programs, The Arc, ZERO TO THREE, CLASP: Center for Law and Social Policy, Women's Fund of Rhode Island, Equal Rights Advocates, and ChangeLab Solutions.