Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why I Support AB 2039

I have asked for your help in getting AB 2039 to pass.  I have written about it since last year and have steadily beat the drum to get this bill moving along and through the California Senate. 

I even agreed to testify in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  (Yikes!)

Since that scares the you-know-what out of me, it’s fair to assume this is important to me. 

Why am I advocating for the expansion of the definition of family under the California Family Rights Act?

It isn’t just because I am a working family caregiver who cares for a brother instead of parent, spouse, child under the age of 18 or dependent adult child.  Selfishly, it is one reason but not the only reason.

It isn’t just because I am a legal administrator and have managed absences (even long-term absences) without harm or excessive cost to the business. 

It is because according to the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are 65 million caregivers in the United States and over 70% of them are employed at some point in their caregiving experience.

That’s more than 40 million working caregivers.  Many of them are caring for siblings, in-laws, grandparents and adult children (who are not dependents).  Many of them want to continue in their jobs but may have to choose between their job and caring for their family member.

Caring for these family members is not protected under FMLA or CFRA.

The FMLA/CFRA definition of family is narrowly defined in a time when family dynamics have changed and family caregivers care for a wide variety of family members.  Narrowly defining family limits the ability of millions of caregivers to take a protected leave of absence while caring for their family member.

AB 2039 expands the leave protection under CFRA for these family caregivers who are trying to work and be productive members of society while also caring for a loved one.

People like me who care for a sibling.

People like one of my employees who will soon be caring for his father-in-law.

People like an employee who recently cared for her grandfather.

People like an employee who provided long-distance care to her sister.

I know first-hand how difficult it is to juggle caregiving and working.  I want to do what I can to ensure these employees are able to take protected leave to care for their family member who might not fit in the confines of the currently limited definition of family under CFRA.

I want that protection for myself and for all the other working family caregivers in California. 

What will I give my employer in return?  A healthy dose of loyalty, hard work and gratitude.

Write letters and fax them to the Senate Appropriations Committee so the bill can pass out of the committee and go to the full Senate. 

Then we’ll work on getting AB 2039 through the Senate and to the Governor. 

In the meantime, wish me luck tomorrow and get those letters in! 

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