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Report Calls for New National Insurance Program

Report Calls for New National Insurance Program to Strengthen Economic Security for Working Families

Georgetown Law’s Workplace Flexibility 2010 and the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security (Berkeley CHEFS) at UC Berkeley School of Law today released a new report, Family Security Insurance: A New Foundation for Economic Security calling for the creation of a national insurance program to provide income replacement for time off for health and caregiving needs.

Family Security Insurance (FSI) would cover income replacement for workers experiencing three significant life events: serious illness or temporary disability that renders a worker temporarily unable to perform his or her job; arrival of a newborn, newly adopted child or newly placed foster child who needs care and time to bond with parents; and the serious illness of a family member who is in need of care. FSI would be financed by an equal-contribution employer and employee payroll tax. Workers would need to meet a threshold level of attachment to the labor force to be eligible for FSI benefits.

“Nearly every American will at some point in their lives need time off from work to address personal illness, to care for a new child, or to care for a loved one with a serious illness. Family Security Insurance (FSI) responds to workers’ critical needs. This is no longer an issue for some families or some industries. It’s an issue for all of us,” said Sharon Masling, Senior Counsel at Workplace Flexibility 2010.

“Current access to paid time off for health and caregiving comes nowhere near to meeting the demand for it. During volatile economic times, many families simply can’t afford to take unpaid time off even for the most pressing and important health and family events,” explained Ann O’Leary, Executive Director of Berkeley CHEFS. “Through our research, we know providing income replacement for needed time off can improve family income security, child development and well-being, women’s labor force attachment, worker productivity, and business’s bottom line. The social and economic implications of this issue make it a national priority.”

Gillian Lester, Professor of Law at UC Berkeley and a contributor to the report said, “Addressing the lack of access to paid time off through national social insurance makes good economic sense. The rise of the two-earner family, coupled with an aging population, has created a permanent demographic shift in the American workforce. More people need to take time off to care for themselves or a loved one, but few are able to afford the time away from work. This is exactly the kind of problem that social insurance was designed to address.”

“As a nation, we can no longer ignore the modern work-family dilemma. People need new kinds of support to do their jobs and take care of their responsibilities at home,” said Katie Corrigan, Director of Georgetown Law’s Workplace Flexibility 2010. “Creating a system like FSI would help to sustain our economy, keep people working, and, at the same time, support our families’ health—financially and emotionally. Few issues could be more relevant as we rebuild our economy for the 21st century and make choices about our nation’s priorities.”

The full report is available online at www.familysecurityinsurance.org.

ENDS

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