WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Mandate paid family leave.
The United States should provide paid family leave for all new mothers and fathers.
According to the International Labor Organization the United States joins New Guinea as the two countries out of 170 that provide no cash benefits of any kind to women during maternity leave.
The International Labor Organization also sets a standard for what countries should provide in a benefits package: 1) women should receive at least 14 weeks off; 2) They should be reimbursed at least two-thirds of their previous earnings; and 3) the benefit should be paid almost entirely by the state through public funds or Social Security. The United States is the only developed country to not meet any of these standards.
More information found here : www.ilo.org
Published Date: May 11, 2015
Want Paid Maternity Leave In The United States? 6 Ways To Push Congress To Change The Laws
JOSEPHINE B. YURCABA
In his Mother’s Day Last Week Tonight episode, John Oliver pointed out that the U.S. is one of two countries that still doesn’t give mothers paid time off after having a baby. It’s us and Papua New Guinea, according to a PBS report. The only real policy that helps new moms is 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which you can get only if you meet a laundry list of requirements imposed by the federal government. If this really grinds your gears, because, you know, moms are the reason why all of us are alive, and they deserve time to recover from pushing you out of their hoo-ha, then you can push almost as hard as your mom did by pushing Congress to change policies on maternity leave.
This kind of change requires us to be good Americans, though. We have to pressure local government officials and talk to our silly Facebook friends who spout misinformation about how paid maternity leave is bad for businesses. Paid maternity leave would mean putting our money where our mouths are. Instead of just recognizing how important moms are once a year, paid maternity leave would recognize the sacrifices moms make when they carry and raise children. For example, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, owned by Google, wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal about how paid maternity leave actually helped the company. (And if we’re going to take notes from anyone, it should probably be Google.) She said that when Google increased paid leave to 18 weeks, the rate at which new mothers left the company fell by 50 percent.
This is just one of the many reasons paid leave is wonderful. So, jump on the mother-loving, paid leave train, and try out a few of these six ways that you can pressure the government to enact paid maternity leave.
Write Your Congressional Representative
Employees of federal agencies (this includes Congress) are allowed six weeks of paid parental leave because of a memorandum signed by President Barack Obama in January. Unfortunately, though, a federal bill that would have extended paid leave into the private sector hasn’t yet made it past the House of Representatives, according to Government Executive.
You can write your senator or House representative about this weird inconsistency. If their family deserves access to paid leave, then why doesn’t yours? Especially when research has shown that paid leave can be good for business. OpenCongress can help you find your senators and House representatives. Once you’ve found them, you can search for their personal website, which often includes a personal email address. Then, you can use a template that will help you draft a letter to them. Here’s a sample letter.
Sign Or Start A Petition
Thanks to the Internet, starting a petition is as easy as online shopping. You can use Change.org, which does most of the work for you, or ThePetitionSite.com, the same site used by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the queen/king of petitions. Petitions are awesome because they show elected officials that this isn’t an issue that only you and your five cats care about. There are a number of petitions already out there for paid maternity leave, so you can also sign your name to one of those. But starting a targeted petition in your local area and then sending it to your senator or House representative (see above) might help draw their attention faster.
Form A Protest In Your Area
Another way to draw attention to an issue that a lot of people support is by organizing a protest — small or large. Get on Facebook and talk to your friends who also support paid family leave. Better yet, create a Facebook event and invite everyone you know who loves their mother. Better yet, if you’re part of a university or group that has a Facebook page, post information about your protest on that page to garner more support.
Host a fun craft night at your house where supporters can make signs or T-shirts with slogans about why others should support the cause. Then, go to your local courthouse, a post office, or any other public property with the group and start your rally. You can come up with chants, you can engage with the public — regardless of how you do it, people will come out more informed about the cause. Most importantly, any kind of protest with more than a dozen people will usually garner media attention, which will only help the issue of paid leave become even more visible.
Find Out What Your Company’s Leave Policy Is
Get informed about the kind of leave that your company offers. It might be difficult to politely ask questions about their policies, so please be careful if you try to discuss it with someone. If anything, see if your company offers you any options to talk about balancing family life and work with the human resources department. But being informed about your company’s policy and the motivations behind it will be a good start, because you can be knowledgeable about it should you contact one of your state representatives.
Share Your Personal Story
The most compelling arguments for certain legislative changes are often personal ones. The movement to change the way universities are handling sexual assault began when college students around the country started sharing their stories. In April, a 24-year-old victim of human trafficking shared her story with NPR, which inspired New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to introduce legislation that keeps existing trafficking laws from punishing victims instead of their traffickers. You could share your story on Facebook or you could write about it on a personal blog. If you have a story that highlights the plight of mothers who can’t afford to take time off after having a baby, then you should get it out there. You would help draw attention to the hundreds of thousands of women who want to have it all — a family they can love and care for, but also a career that empowers and celebrates their skills.
My State has Paid Leave. It Meant Everything to My Family.
by Anne Quirk
Editor’s Note: After the launch of the Labor Department’s “Lead On Leave” initiative, the author of this post shared her story on how paid leave would benefit her and her family. Submit your own story at dol.gov/PaidLeave.
I’ll admit it. When interviewing for a job in my past, I focused on just two things: the salary and the vacation time. Babies were not on the brain yet and, truthfully, I assumed we all got some time off to care for a newborn if we wanted. Because we live in the United States and we are a super advanced and family-focused country, right? Don’t all companies have some sort of magical maternity or paternity policy they tell you about when you announce you’re expecting? Isn’t that what FMLA is for?
Stop right there! I, along with many expectant parents, quickly learned that the Family Medical Leave Act, while important and necessary, only guarantees up to 12 weeks of job protection — all unpaid, only if you have been at your employer for a full year and only if your company employs more than 50 people. A huge number of you reading this do not even qualify for job protection if you needed to care for a baby or another family member.
As a country, we can do better than this — the rest of the world is doing better than this. We are one of a handful of countries (and the only industrialized one) that do not have a paid family leave program. I’d like to share why it’s so important to me (and why it should be to you, too) and why I am so fortunate to live in Rhode Island, currently one of 4 states providing paid family leave.
At 27 weeks pregnant, I went into premature labor. I had planned on working up until my due date, which was then a whopping 13 weeks away. I was immediately put on bed rest. After I used up my few sick and vacation days, there were no more paychecks to help with the mortgage or the bills. At 31 weeks pregnant, I gave birth to a baby boy who would require a month in the NICU. Once we got him home we would have daily appointments with homecare nurses, the NICU follow-up clinic, ophthalmologists, audiologists, physical therapists, etc. Our son had quite the social calendar.
By the time my 12 weeks of “job protection” were over (remember, no income), we hadn’t even reached my son’s due date! There was no way I could drop off a 6-pound baby who wasn’t even supposed to be out of the womb to day care and hightail it back to work. Developmentally, he wasn’t ready … and mentally, I sure wasn’t.
Here is what made the difference: Rhode Island has a Temporary Caregiver Insurance program and a Temporary Disability Insurance program. Between the two, my husband and I were able to supplement our income to help make up for the huge loss in pay due to my work absence. Less stress about how to pay the bills meant everything to us during a time we needed to focus on family.
I also hit the “boss jackpot.” She was understanding and flexible, and knew I needed more time than we had originally planned. Because of her support I came back to work when I was ready with a renewed commitment to my job and to the company. But we shouldn’t need to have an exceptional boss in order to get the support we need. We should have it from our government and our employers because it’s the right thing to do and because it has proven beneficial to both employees and employers in the states that already have paid leave policies in place.
In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube (owned by Google), shared how paid maternity leave is not just good for families — it’s also good for business. When Google increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks in 2007, they found that the rate at which new moms left the company fell by 50 percent. She wrote, “It’s much better for Google’s bottom line — to avoid costly turnover, and to retain the valued expertise, skills and perspective of our employees who are mothers.”
If we know paid leave works for employers and it is what employees want, what are we waiting for? It’s time we start to Lead on Leave.
Anne Quirk is a working mom from Providence, RI.
Guess Who’s Leading on Paid Leave? (Hint: Not Us)
Filed in Paid Leave, Secretary Perez, Women, Workforce Development, Workplace Rights by Secretary Tom Perez on September 22, 2014
Editor’s note: This has been cross-posted on the Huffington Post.
I spent last week in Melbourne, Australia representing our government at a meeting of Labor Ministers of the world’s 20 major economies.
After sitting down with my G20 counterparts and learning more about their policies relating to work and workplaces, my main takeaway is that the United States is distressingly behind the curve on paid family leave.
It’s incomprehensible to me that we’re the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave law of any kind. How can we say we’re for family values when so many women in the United States have to jeopardize their livelihood to take a few weeks off from work after giving birth? Should a man have to sacrifice his economic security to take care of his sick mother or his wife returning wounded from active duty?
Our global partners have figured this out, building a solid consensus around these issues. They’ve taken partisanship and ideology out of the debate to recognize this for what it is – a 21st century economic imperative. They’ve discovered that paid leave, child care and similar policies increase our human capital by bringing more women into the labor force. They know it’s possible to have a growing economy, thriving businesses and family-friendly workplaces. They’ve realized we have to give people the tools to be productive employees and attentive parents – the two aren’t mutually exclusive, they go hand-in-hand.
Consider these examples:
• Canada guarantees at least 15 weeks of paid maternity leave, with some employee cost-sharing as part of the national employment insurance system. Parental leave is 37 weeks shared between both parents with similar payments. There is also child care support of $100 per month for children under six.
• The United Kingdom allows women to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave (including 39 weeks with pay), in addition to a range of options for paternity leave.
• Australia offers up to 18 weeks of parental leave with financial support, and at 5.8 percent its unemployment rate is lower than ours. The conservative Australian government didn’t embrace this policy grudgingly; they made it a centerpiece of their campaign platform and want to extend it to 26 weeks with more financial support.
• Brazilian unemployment is comparable to ours, but their women get 120 days of leave at 100 percent pay.
• Japan offers paid maternity leave at slightly reduced salary and benefits for up to 14 weeks of total leave. Moreover, Prime Minister Abe has made “Womenomics” — increasing GDP by boosting female labor force participation — a cornerstone of his governing agenda.
So, where does that leave us? While the rest of the world leans in, we’re still falling behind.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much appetite in this Congress for forward progress on these issues. But instead of waiting for leadership from Capitol Hill, we’re incentivizing reforms at the state level where so much public policy innovation takes place. Later this week, I’ll announce the winners of $500,000 in total grants for states to explore the feasibility and evaluate the effectiveness of paid leave policies. Currently, California, Rhode Island and New Jersey stand alone as states with paid family and medical leave laws.
Our pressing challenge right now is to ensure shared prosperity, to build an economy that works for everyone. That means investing in the middle class, rewarding hard work and responsibility, ensuring that everyone has a chance to succeed. Paid leave has to be at the center of those efforts.
Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter, @LaborSec.