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Be All In for Paid Family Leave

This petition had 5,181 supporters

Across the U.S., families are struggling because a basic human right is missing: the chance for a newborn baby to have a parent at home who does not have to worry about putting food on the table.

When I couldn’t stay home with my preemie daughter, ailing wife, and two sons for more than a couple of weeks, it was a difficult and painful time.  But many families can’t even afford that much time off. Some mothers have to rush back to work within days to pay the rent.

The U.S. is the only developed country that does not offer paid maternity leave. Many countries also offer paid paternity leave.The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but it doesn’t even apply to 40% of workers, and most families can’t afford unpaid leave.

In research for a book, I learned that California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have addressed this critical issue by creating paid family leave programs -- and they have proven that these programs are good for workers and businesses of all sizes.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce previously waged what it called “all-out war” against paid family leave, saying many employers couldn’t afford it. But under the laws in these three states, employers are not required to pay salaries during leave. Instead, employees draw on a pool of funds created by small payroll taxes. Now that the results are in and businesses like it, the chamber has gone silent on this issue -- and, in fact, gives its own workers paid family leave.

To Americans, this is a non-partisan cause. Polls show majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents want a paid family leave insurance program.

Paid family leave is also necessary to advance gender equality by giving all parents the chance to be caregivers.  Our current laws are straight out of the 1950s, pushing women to stay home and men to stay at work.

If we had a national policy, I would have been able to stay home when my family needed me.  I would have had that critical bonding time with my baby girl.  My wife would have had the time she needed to recover, and she would have been able to take a part-time work opportunity that she instead had to give up.  

If we don’t fix these outdated structures, our children won’t have equal opportunities in their lives. When my kids grow up, my daughter will be pushed to stay home and my sons will be pushed to stay at work, despite what’s best for their families and businesses.

It’s time for the chamber to do what’s right for businesses, families, and for the country. A statement of support for paid family leave would send a critical message to lawmakers, corporate policy makers, and small businesses: paid family leave is a win across the board.

And so, my question to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is this: are you All In for paid family leave?


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