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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: It was almost 14 years ago that the Family and Medical Leave Act created by Senator Christopher Dodd became law. It allows workers to take unpaid time off to deal with a family illness. Later today the Senator will update the law by giving workers six weeks off with paid leave. Here's Marketplace's Jeff Tyler.

JEFF TYLER: The current system leaves low-income workers out in the cold, says Deborah Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.

DEBORAH NESS: Right now, the folks who need the leave the most are often unable to take it, because it's unpaid leave and they can't afford to go without a paycheck.

California is the only state where employees can take time off for medical emergencies and get a paycheck. Workers can collect a little more than half a normal week's pay — up to $840.

Ness says the California model costs the employer nothing out-of-pocket.

NESS: The California program is entirely employee-funded. It averages out to be about a $1.56 per employee per month.

Senator Dodd's plan to give all workers paid leave is being unveiled today. It would share the costs between the federal government, the employer and employee.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace