“All In” in New Hampshire - What Paid Family Leave Means for Our Families
Recently, author Josh Levs was interviewed on NHPR’s The Exchange about his new book “All In” in which he advocates for changing the policies around paid family leave in the United States. I am thrilled to see that this issue is being discussed in New Hampshire, and want to thank the Women’s Foundation for bringing Levs in to talk about this critical issue.
As I listened, there were a few key things that stuck out for me:
#1 Family Leave Matters to all of us
The biggest headline for me was the way Levs framed the fight for paid leave as a issue that will ultimately touch all of our lives. Many of us might be parents, or may one day become parents and need leave when we welcome a new child into our lives. Many of us know with certainty that we will one day be responsible for caring for ailing parents. And sometimes there is no way to prepare for it, but many of us may find ourselves needing extended time away from work to care for an ailing spouses or our own serious illness. Paid family leave addresses all of these circumstances and seeks to provide financial support and job security when you most need. In short, we are all part of a family and family leave addresses just that.
#2 We deserve better than the status quo and need to ask for more – sometimes LOUDLY
As a parent of a premature child, I really empathized with Josh Levs’ personal story that started him down the path to advocate for paid family leave. I too had a baby in the NICU and the two weeks my husband was given as leave were over before our son came home. In fact, the day our son moved to a NICU in a closer hospital my husband was on a plane to Detroit for work. I was trying to understand our son’s medical needs and care for our toddler, and in this time of crisis for us, I really needed my partner with me.
We got through it and our son came home. However, what struck me as I listened to Josh Levs was how disempowered we felt to ask for something different for our family. We need to change the climate of our workplaces. According to Levs, only 14% of companies have paid paternity leave, so I guess we should count ourselves lucky that my husband had any leave at all. But at that time and in that moment it was simply not enough.
We deserve something that works for families and need to be empowered to ask for it! Fatherhood and Motherhood changing but it will need our collective voices to ensure the working would changes with us.
#3 Supporting families is good for business
Levs made the strong argument that paid family leave is good for business. Some wonderful press has been given to some very progressive policies being announced by some well-known companies. We need to celebrate these and ensure that these amazing benefits are extended to all workers, both women and men, both salaried and hourly. Paid family leave increases employee retention, employee satisfaction and production. This is not conjecture, the evidence from states with leave policies in place backs this up.
Policies that put more of a burden on business are not helpful, but good policy change backed by solid evidence is a win for all. The Nashua, NH Chamber of Commerce even cosponsored an event with Levs for local business leaders, which is great news.
In the end, my key takeaway is that paid family leave matters to both women and men, parents and non parents, Democrats and Republicans. What I liked best about listening to Josh Levs was his focus on solutions. We need to make changes now and bring US policy forward for all workers.
We have an easy way to get started! Express your support for paid family leave by signing MomsRising’s letter urging members of Congress to support the FAMILY Act: http://action.momsrising.org/sign/FAMILYAct_2015/