American workers should not be penalized for getting sick, having a child, or taking time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Yet only 11 percent of workers are covered by formal paid family leave. Low-wage workers can’t afford to take even one day off, let alone several weeks. This is a widespread issue that affects men, women, and their families.
Despite arguments that giving employees paid time off would hurt businesses, studies show that isn’t true. When parents, mothers especially, are able to take time off work to care for and bond with a new child, they put in more hours upon their return and go further in their own careers. Studies also indicate that paid leave helps stave off post-partum depression, reduce infant mortality, and increase parent-child bonding. Fathers who take paternity leave continue to be more involved with child-rearing over time, a huge benefit for children who grow up with that model of healthy masculinity and egalitarian relationships.
The evidence is clear and businesses from D.C. to Silicon Valley are doing more to support their employees. However, more can and should be done. Until paid family leave is a reality for all American workers, we need to continue fighting for it. If you agree that paid family leave it important, vote for candidates who support policies that force companies to provide it.