Feb. 5 marked the 26th anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which guarantees workers access to job-protected unpaid time off to welcome a new child, care for a family member or tend to one’s own illness or injury. It was also my older daughter’s 4th birthday. (How did that happen?!)

I can vouch that very few Vermonters have access to parental leave or personal medical leave through their employers. When my older daughter was born, I was in the process of launching my own business. Though the work I do supports leaders and companies to create a thriving culture, there was no support for me to take time off to be with my new baby. Though I had a beautiful home-birth delivery, my husband’s job at a local Vermont nonprofit could not support him for a decent leave to be at home with us. He was granted unpaid leave of up to four weeks. We only survived because of the cheap rent on the old farmhouse we lived in, and because of the kindness of friends and family.

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