Leading Moms Group Commends House Ways and Means Committee Leaders for Holding Hearing on Paid Family and Medical Leave Today
WASHINGTON, DC – The urgent push to adopt a comprehensive national paid family and medical leave program got a boost today when the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the issue, under the leadership of Chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX).
“The moms of America are thrilled that policies relating to paid family and medical leave are moving forward in Congress and at the state level,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRising. “We know that high quality policies like the FAMILY (Family And Medical Insurance Leave) Act boost our families, our economy, and our businesses. The FAMILY Act is the only bipartisan paid leave proposal in Congress; it would cover all workers, address the range of caregiving needs families face, and be affordable for taxpayers and businesses alike. We are convinced that it is the best option.”
Today in our nation, just 19 percent of the civilian workforce has access to paid family leave to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one, and just 40 percent has access to short-term disability insurance provided by an employer. There are deep, painful disparities in terms of who has access to paid leave. As is the case with so many supports, low-income workers fare the worst. While 34 percent of the highest-wage workers have paid family leave through an employer, just 6 percent of the lowest-wage workers do.
“It is gratifying to see our leaders tackle this issue, but the details matter,” added Ruth Martin, senior vice president and chief workplace justice officer at MomsRising. “Providing paid leave by raiding Social Security would force families to trade economic security in retirement for paid time off to spend with a new baby today and would especially harm low-wage workers, women and those in communities of color, who are least likely to have paid leave through their employers and most likely to need Social Security benefits when they retire.”
“Similarly,” Martin added, “allowing families with new babies to take a lump sum loan of up to $5,000 that they would have to repay provides no net financial help for families; no paid time off; no job protection; no paid leave to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, partner, parent or sibling; no paid leave to recover from serious illness or injury; and no paid leave to care for or bond with a newborn, newly adopted or foster child. And any policy that provides only parental leave would do nothing to support the three in four workers who take leave to address their own serious medical conditions or those of family members. The FAMILY Act is the solution the country needs.”
MomsRising has worked to pass paid family and medical leave at the state and federal levels since the organization was created 13 years ago. Its members have supported passage of all the state paid leave programs in place in our country today and MomsRising was especially instrumental in enacting Washington State’s paid family and medical leave plan, which resulted from unprecedented collaboration between worker advocates, business leaders and legislators and which serves as a blueprint for states today.