Tomorrow the U.S. House of Representatives will hold the first-ever hearing exclusively focused on paid leave, a significant achievement for advocates who have been working for years toward congressional action on a national paid leave policy. The Work Family Strategy Council, a group comprised of diverse national organizations, is confident this hearing marks the beginning of a robust debate around an effective paid family and medical leave policy. In order to meet the needs of today’s families, the collaborative remains committed to a national paid leave plan that is comprehensive of working people’s caregiving needs; provides a meaningful duration of leave and wage-replacement level that makes taking leave affordable for all working people; is sustainably funded without harming other critical programs; and is secure so that workers will not face retaliation for taking or requesting leave.
The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act is the only proposal before Congress that aligns with these principles. Below are comments from the leaders of this campaign, who are mobilizing hundreds of state and national organizations to call on the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee and all members of Congress to support the FAMILY Act this session. Groups in the Work Family Strategy Council provided three of the four witnesses testifying at the hearing: CLASP director Pronita Gupta, small business owner and Main Street Alliance member Tony Sandkamp, and MomsRising member Marisa Howard-Karp.
“Mi Familia Vota was born out of the labor movement, and we keep our fight for workers’ rights as one of the top priorities of our work. The United States scores at the bottom of the list compared to other nations when it comes to providing working families access to paid leave. This burden weighs most heavily on low-income workers and Latinos who are often employed in jobs that do not offer paid leave. We are proud to stand in coalition with our local and national partners in support of the FAMILY ACT.”
“Paid family and medical leave is a critical work support for all. And it is game-changing for workers of color and low-income workers, the vast majority of whom—93 percent—have no access to paid family leave. As CLASP Director Pronita Gupta will emphasize in her testimony tomorrow, far too many hard-working families are forced to make impossible choices between their economic security and their loved ones’ needs. We applaud the House Ways and Means Committee for considering this critical policy to ensure low-wage families have time to heal and care without compromising their economic security.”
“We all benefit when people — workers and small business owners alike— can take the time they need to care for themselves or their families. As Tony Sandkamp, owner of Sandkamp Woodworks in Jersey City, New Jersey. will testify at the House Ways and Means hearing May 8, 'Paid family and medical leave insurance gives us the support needed to come back to work ready, rested, and with some peace of mind. As an employer, I’ve had very positive experiences with New Jersey’s program, and I’m convinced that paid family and medical leave needs to be part of the fabric of our society.'”
“This historic hearing is long overdue. As MomsRising member Marisa Howard-Karp will testify, working moms and families need paid leave in both the best and worst of times – when they welcome a new child, care for a seriously ill relative, or recover from illness. A program that provides new child leave only would be fatally flawed. Moms and families, businesses and our economy will be much better off when Congress adopts an inclusive, comprehensive, sustainable paid leave program.”
“Nobody should have to make the impossible choice between their financial security and taking time away from work to bond with a child, support a loved one with a disability, or recover from an illness. As our nation ages, we need comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave that covers every stage of life, and leaves nobody out.”
“A good economy provides a decent quality of life to all families, not just a few. Our research shows paid leave benefits workers and their families and helps preserve public health. Businesses experience lower turnover and improved morale. Coordinating company policies with a public program reduces costs for employers. An inclusive paid family and medical leave insurance program can reach underserved populations that otherwise lack access to pay during leave. In spite of our strong economy, the US lags behind other wealthy nations in this area. We can do a better job of sharing the benefits of American prosperity.”
“Our national network of 27 state coalitions has now won paid leave in six states and DC, with more wins on the horizon. These broad and diverse coalitions have built the movement and continued to improve the model for an effective policy. The evidence is in. So are the stories from those who bear the high cost of doing nothing, and those who benefit when time to care is affordable and accessible. It's time for Congress to learn from the states and pass a federal program that will value all care and every family.”
“The time for a comprehensive national paid leave policy is past due and for Black women and their families, paid family and medical leave is an economic imperative. Consider that three out of four Black women are the primary source of income in their family units and nearly 30 percent of Black family caregivers are young family members between the ages of 18 and 34, earning less than $30,000 annually. For these reasons, our national Black Women's Roundtable Intergenerational Public Policy Network of Black women leaders has made comprehensive paid family policy a major priority.”
“Paid family and medical leave is long overdue. Working families lose $20.6 billion each year in lost wages because they lack access to paid leave to address their caregiving needs. These costs unnecessarily put the economic stability of women and families at risk when there is a commonsense, proven solution available. A comprehensive, inclusive, and cost-effective paid leave program would provide much-needed support to families, improve women’s labor force participation, and strengthen business outcomes. The hearing by the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means is an important recognition that it is finally time for a national solution.