Flowers are purchased, cards are mailed and brunch reservations are made. Mother’s Day is here again. But what many moms really need for this holiday is something much different – and much more substantial.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, the Department of Labor held an event yesterday to discuss the importance of paid family and medical leave. At the event, Labor Secretary Tom Perez talked with the Global CEO of Nestle Paul Bulcke, Heather Boushey, Executive Director of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and top executives at other companies about this important policy. Secretary Perez noted that paid leave is not just an economic imperative, it’s a public health imperative, and that “You should not have to win the boss lottery to have access to these basic benefits.”
But while some companies like those at this event are making great strides in offering paid leave to their employees, and while many other countries have generous paid leave policies, the U.S. remains the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee paid family and medical leave. In fact, only 12 percent of private sector workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave through their employers. Because of this, roughly 25 percent of new moms in this country are forced to go back to work within two weeks of giving birth. What we need is a national paid leave plan that benefits all moms – and all workers.
That’s why CHN and other advocacy groups support the Family and Medical Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would give all workers the time off they need when they need it, including time to take care of their own medical issues, a family member’s illness, an aging parent, or the birth or adoption of a child. Championed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the FAMILY Act would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year.
Advocates promoted the FAMILY Act yesterday during a #WhatMomsNeed digital day of action that also called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act to guarantee workers have paid sick days. Today, 43 million workers in the U.S. (about 38 percent) still lack access to paid sick days, and almost half of workers in the lowest 25 percent of wage earners have no paid time off at all – no sick days, personal days, vacation, or family or medical leave. The National Women’s Law Center, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, MomsRising and others also used the #WhatMomsNeed day of action to call for fair and equal pay, consistent hours and scheduling, an end to pregnancy discrimination, the protection and expansion of health care, and other issues important to families.
While there are many ways to honor moms this Mother’s Day, taking action to improve their economic security seems like a pretty great way to me. What other programs should we be investing in to honor and protect America’s moms? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.