At a time when partisan rancor and political gridlock is hindering progress on so many issues, there is one area on which both Republicans and Democrats agree: the need to provide paid family leave to all working families.
We commend State Representative Chris Dinkins for prioritizing the needs of families and businesses in her district by introducing House Resolution 40, which calls on the U.S. Congress to come together and pass a nationwide paid family and medical leave law.
As an organization that uses research to develop solutions to economically empower women and their families, we know paid family and medical leave is a clear win-win for women, families and our economy as a whole.
At a time when more and more working families are taking care of children and aging parents, a paid family and medical leave law is vital to the health of our economy and our workforce.
Our research has found that paid family leave programs prevent families from falling into poverty, reduce reliance on public assistance, help employers recruit and retain talented employees, and increase worker productivity.
When it comes to healthier families, the evidence is overwhelming that paid leave improves outcomes for both mothers and children. At a Congressional hearing on the issue, Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy noted that mothers who take paid leave are 50 percent less likely to be readmitted to the hospital after giving birth.
Paid family leave is also a proven workforce development strategy. For businesses needing a skilled, productive workforce, paid family and medical leave programs can improve long-term productivity by boosting recruitment, retention and employee motivation.
A paid family and medical leave law is a smart investment with a big return. For example, an employee payroll contribution of 0.25 percent comes out to about the cost of a cup of coffee per week for the average worker.
That’s why it’s frustrating that 88 percent of private sector employees lack access to paid family leave, and the U.S. remains the only industrialized country in the world without a nationwide paid leave program.
By championing a paid family and medical leave law, Representative Dinkins joins a growing coalition of leaders on both sides of the aisle. In 2017, the Women’s Foundation worked with the Missouri Governor and other statewide officeholders to give state employees six weeks of paid parental leave to bond with a newborn or adopted child.
Last year, Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer followed suit, making Kansas the 15th state to provide paid parental leave to all or some of their workforce by signing an executive order extending the benefit to more than 17,000 Kansas state employees.
Many politicians talk about supporting families and businesses, but state Representative Dinkins is putting those words into action by promoting policies that will make the 144th District stronger, healthier and more prosperous for generations to come.
Wendy Doyle it the President & CEO of the Women’s Foundation. Kendall Seal is the Vice President of Research & Policy and general counsel, Women’s Foundation.