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Karen Showalter's picture

Care is care is care: Whether it’s to care for a newborn you swear already smiles, a mom who is severely ill, or a spouse or partner battling cancer, being there for family is what matters. No one should permanently lose their job and their financial lifeline when an urgent and unexpected family matter arises.

America’s moms and parents want--and our economy and our nation need--a national paid leave plan that is comprehensive, affordable, and sustainable and that allows all workers to care for new babies, their families, and themselves in critically important moments without risking their jobs or long-term financial security.

We need a paid leave plan that: 

  • Has a meaningful length of leave: Working people should have access to at least 12 weeks of paid leave to care for their own critical illness, a family member, or a new child.
  • Is accessible to all working people: Every working person-- in the public and private sector, regardless of employer size -- should have access to the program.
  • Covers all families: Workers should be able to use their paid leave to care for all their family members in times of crisis, including the full range of configurations and care responsibilities families experience today. 
  • Offers job protection: Every working person’s job should be protected when they take leave.
  • Is affordable, cost-effective and sustainable for workers, employers, businesses, and taxpayers: Working people and businesses should contribute to the program's shared pool equally, and, in times of crisis, working people should receive wage replacement from the insurance fund on a sliding scale so that most workers get a majority of their wages replaced and low-income working people are made whole so that they’re actually able to use the leave.

The details matter! Whether we're just starting out as new parents, sandwiched between caring for teens while also caring for our seriously-ill elderly parents, nurturing a spouse who was in a terrible accident back to health, or dealing with our own critical illness, we all need to be there to care for our loved ones or ourselves in times of crisis. Standing together, we can deliver the comprehensive care solutions our families, businesses, and economy needs.

We will not accept dangerous or incomplete proposals. 

Raiding Our Social Security or Cut Safety Net Programs Is Not Okay: We do not support forcing families to trade their future economic security during retirement for paid time off to spend with a baby today. This is a non-starter. According to the Urban Institute, for a typical parent of two, that trade-off would reduce lifetime Social Security benefits by approximately 7 percent. That would put low-wage workers and those in communities of color--including millions of moms--in dire straits because they are likely to rely heavily on their Social Security benefits in old age. 

Focusing Exclusively on Parental Leave Doesn’t Work: Parental leave entirely disregards the experience of most families; ignores the policies that are working in many states to lift families, the economy, and businesses; and doesn’t fix the problem this policy is aimed at resolving. Three in four workers in this country who take leave do so to address their own serious medical conditions or those of family members. Already, one in five people have to leave the workforce earlier than planned because of emergency caregiving responsibilities, often associated with eldercare, and two-thirds of unpaid family caregivers for aging family members are women. When that happens, people lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement income and are more likely to experience poverty in old age. With our population aging, that will become an even greater problem in the years ahead. We need a comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy that lifts people of all ages in times of crisis.

Relying on Personal Tax-Free Savings Accounts is Unrealistic & Unfair: Expecting young people and families -- in particular those with student loan debt or low-wage jobs -- to save enough to fund their own family or medical leave is unrealistic and unfair. Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. say they could not afford an emergency expense of $400. Even the conservative think tank American Action Forum wrote in 2017: “[I]t would likely be unhelpful for workers in low-income households who spend all or nearly all their earnings on daily necessities, such as food and rent, and have less available to save.”


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