Every day I pass working women in the supermarket check-out line at 5:30 pm on their way home from the office. I see them serving coffee at Starbucks and waiting tables while pregnant. I meet women in the office, in my community and at my daughter’s school, working moms who like the rest of America, need their income to make ends meet. More often than not these women (and men) are making choices about the length of time they spend with their newborn children based upon their financial needs.
The current status quo in this country is two weeks of paid maternity leave and very few companies offer paternity leave. What this means for American families is that they have to take unpaid time off to raise their young children, often never returning to the workforce. In fact, American families lose $21 billion dollars of income annually due to unpaid time off for family care. Furthermore, there’s a stigma attached to men taking time off for family care. Men are expected to work regardless, culturally shunned for taking time off.
In Finland, did you know what both parents take a year off from work? Paid. Its expected that both parents spend time bonding with their children. That bonding time is crucial for your child’s emotional and mental well-being.
Author Josh Levs, a 43-year-old CNN reporter has written a book, All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses – and How We Can Fix It Together, arguing that it is incumbent on men to become part of a conversation about gender equality in homes and in workplaces. Josh says “We need paid family leave on a national level. It’s good for businesses and good for the economy; it already exists and is working great in California and New Jersey and Rhode Island. We need to make this national policy. There’s a bill in Congress, the FAMILY Act, that would do that.” – Josh Levs
But for hundreds of thousands of Americans, this quality time is not an option. They can’t afford to be out of work. But we can change this. We can encourage our legislators and corporations to adopt and embrace the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (or FAMILY Act) legislation that would create a universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave program.
This act only costs companies $1.50 per week per employee to offer the 12 weeks of paid time off per year for family care (this includes elder care). You can help us get the word out!
Join us today for a “Day of Action” to lift up America’s need for a comprehensive, affordable national paid family and medical leave law. United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and United States Representative Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), along with more than 100 of their colleagues in Congress, are expected to reintroduce the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act.
The FAMILY Act would help to address America’s paid family and medical leave crisis. Today, just 14 percent of working people have paid family leave to care for a new child or a seriously ill loved one – that translates into more than 100 million people that do not have access to paid family leave. That’s part of the reason why nearly one-quarter of women are back at work within two weeks of giving birth and why adult children must leave the workforce to care for an aging parent – at a cost of more than $300,000 in lost income and retirement savings. This status quo is unacceptable and costs the United States dearly in terms of women’s labor force participation, men’s family engagement, lost earnings and lost national economic productivity.
Today is also significant because it marks the 24th anniversary of the day that President Clinton signed the original Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which has been used more than 200 million times by working people across the country to take unpaid, job protected leave.
How can you help? Join us in tweeting and posting about the FAMILY act. You can find social media posts online. Support United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and United States Representative Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) as they present the ACT to Congress and suggest to your friends who are business owners that they adopt this program in their own companies. #FMLA24