Monday, December 23, 2019

Workers Need Paid Leave in America

Congress passed a bill earlier in the week giving the country’s 2.1 million government employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave. But it still leaves about 80% of U.S. workers in the private sector with no access to paid family leave. Even under the policy passed by Congress for federal workers, there are still gaps in coverage. For instance, federal workers do not get paid leave for their own serious illness or to care for a sick relative. More than 70% of the time, those are the reasons workers take time off under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which only guarantees unpaid leave.
Disproportionately, paid leave has gone to higher-paid white collar workers. Just 9% of wage earners in the bottom 25% have access to paid family leave, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares to 30% of wage earners in the top 25%.
Millions of construction workers, retail workers, public school teachers, warehouse and transportation workers and restaurant employees have to forego paychecks to take time to care for a new child.
In Congress, there is growing bipartisan support for a federal paid family leave policy for all workers, but progress has stalled over sharp differences over how to pay for it. Many companies that rely on low-wage workers, small businesses and non-profits are unlikely to take on the cost of family leave without a government policy to help pay for it, said Harry Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University.

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