entitle every individual to family and medical leave insuranceSOURCE: U.S. Government Publishing Office
We are a diverse group of experts, many of us with government experience in both Democratic and Republican administrations. In the end, we did not agree on such questions as the generosity of the benefits, how to pay for them, whether they should be focused on low-income families or made available to the middle class, how strict the eligibility rules should be, and how much job protection should be provided. But it is worth noting that we all agreed a paid family leave policy is needed in the US.
Public support in creating such a policy has grown in the past few years, with 82 percent supporting paid maternity leave and 69 percent supporting a paid paternity leave policy. The Brookings Institude supports the concept but proposes merging the legislation with a similar Senate bill, and leaving room for experimentation.
Small businesses would welcome a paid family and medical leave insurance program, according to a new poll by Small Business Majority (SBM) and Center for American Progress (CAP). The poll finds that 70 percent of small businesses support the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would establish a federal paid family and medical leave program.
When you think about the cost of individuals leaving, the cost of seeking new employees, the cost of maybe hiring the wrong person, training them, etc., and you compare that to the pennies that Family Leave costs you—there is just no comparison in terms of the pure balance sheet.
The FAMILY Act ensures employees have access to 12 weeks of partial income if they take time off for their health, a serious health problem of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner, the birth or adoption of a child, and/or military caregiving and leave purposes.
The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act—introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. DeLauro—spells out a national program that would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave with 66 percent wage replacement for all eligible employees, regardless of employer size. The law also creates a social insurance program that employers and employees would fund through a small payroll tax. The Social Security Administration would administer this program. A national paid family and medical leave program, such as that proposed in the FAMILY Act, would be a step forward, expanding access to the most vulnerable workers and their families.
The FAMILY Act would provide workers with 12 weeks of partially paid leave to care for a new baby or sick family member or for their own serious health condition. The leave would be available to employees at businesses of all sizes and would be available to spouses and domestic partners, same-sex couples, and adoptive parents. It’s past time for us to reckon with the unsustainable of failing to provide paid family leave on families’ economic security, children’s health outcomes, and national productivity. But we can’t settle for a policy that provides the bare minimum or that reflects some out-of-touch and distorted view of what families should look like. It is perhaps too much to hope that members of Congress could work together to enact paid leave, much less that they could ensure leave that is sufficient, comprehensive, and accessible to all types of parents and families, as the FAMILY Act does. But it shouldn’t be.