Paid parental and family leave
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The United States is the only industrialized country, and one of the only few countries in the world without any paid parental leave. Other countries are starting to provide paid paternity leave in a movement towards gender equality and better family raising, when our country has not even given the mothers a chance to bond, breastfeed, or care for their children.
While the rest of the world takes care of the parents and the growing population, United States makes it harder than any other country to procreate without fear of financial instability.
The only relief in place is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed in 1993, that entitles eligible employees to take "unpaid, job protected leave for specified family and medical reasons" (https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/index.htm
In summary, the FMLA provides:
- Up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period
- Unpaid leave, with guaranteed reinstatement unless you are a highly paid, salaried employee considered a "key" employee
- Leave to care for a new child (birth or adoption); a spouse, child, or parent with serious health conditions; or for a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to preform his duties.
This is unacceptably not enough - every other high income country provides some sort of paid parental and family leave. Out of the 193 countries in the UN, USA is one of only four nations that does not do so. While some companies started providing their own paid parental leave, it is rarely offered to fathers and only some employees are legible for the partial pay.
This is an issue on many levels: social, economic, and even health. Both parents should have the right to spend time with their newborn child, or their seriously sick family member, without punishment of losing a job title or plummeting into debt and economic challenges. It is a reasonably earned benefit provided by the rest of the world, except for United States, a country that claims itself as a superpower yet fails to provide it's people with something so globally accepted.
The fertility rate has hit a record low, and more and more people are choosing not to have children, and unpaid leave accounts for part of the reason. Many women, can't even get one paid day off for their child's birth, let alone a paid week to bond, breastfeed and recover.
The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, is a proposal for paid family and medical leave from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
This act, would provide the same twelve weeks of protected job leave, however it would be at least partially paid. "The Family Act (PDF), sponsored by Democrats, would create a trust fund, similar to social security, paid by taxes on workers and employers, to fund up to 12 weeks of leave for new parents, as well as for other family emergencies" (https://qz.com/909145/trump-may-finally-bring-paid-parental-leave-to-america-this-year/
With small contributions of only an average of $2 a week from workers, and a cap of $227.40 contributed yearly, United States can finally begin to provide the paid family and parental leave everyone is entitled to, at no great economic costs to the government or the companies, as it would be fully funded by the employees' paychecks.
After a similar setup was implemented in California as an expansion to the existing State Disability Insurance System, 2/3 of the workers did not even notice a change in the paychecks. The same goes for the FAMILY Act, but while the pay difference may be almost unnoticeable, the benefits would be major.
Studies on how paid maternal leave affects families, and implementation of paid family leave in California, Rhode Island, Washington, New Jersey, and New York—and the District of Columbia, have proven the following benefits:
- Lower rates of child mortality and premature birth
- Better cognitive and socioemotional development of children
- Raises probability of mother's returning to work after a child's birth
- Parents are less likely to need food stamps and public aid
- Boosts employee morale
- Improves individual productivity
The Center for Economic and Policy Research, conducted a report on Californian companies that have provided paid family leave, and found that "from 89 percent to 99 percent of employers say it has had no effect or a positive one on productivity, profitability, turnover and morale" (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/upshot/the-economic-benefits-of-paid-parental-leave.html
The FAMILY Act, is a small step towards improving social and worker rights, however it is a change necessary.
The bill was introduced into the Senate in February 2017, and after being read and referred to the Committee on Finance, no action has been taken since.
Action needs to be taken in order to give American families the rights and protection they deserve. It is unacceptable for United States to be the only economically developed country to make parents sacrifice family time for the economic fear of corporations.
The FAMILY Act is a change in the right direction, and it needs to be made a higher priority on the Congressional Agenda.
Action needs to be taken within the Committee of Finance, whether it is held for hearing or referred to a subcommittee.
We must demand that the Congress takes action to move the FAMILY Act through the legislative progress, as families deserve to hope for a future of paid family leave, and burying that possibility with no additional hearings is cruel and unfair.
United States has gone too long depriving their workers of the paid leave every other country manages to provide. Lets care for the families, mothers, fathers and children - stop letting money, corporations and business greed take over that possibility.
Sign this petition and help provide parents and family members in the workforce with protected paid family leave we all deserve.
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