The U.S. is the only industrialized country without a national paid leave program. A few months ago, I wrote this article about the lack of paid leave in the U.S. Since then, I was informed by the WORLD Policy Analysis Center that two more countries implemented paid leave programs, Swaziland and Lesotho. (We’re working on a new infographic.)
So now the U.S. is one of only three countries in the world with no national mandated paid leave program. The other two are Papua New Guinea and Suriname, and a few South Pacific islands. It’s time for us to catch up.
And there is a way, right now, that we can start. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Rosa De Lauro co-sponsored The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act, S. 1810 and H.R. 3712), a bill currently in Congress that outlines the way to bring paid leave to the U.S.
This is a self-funded program much like disability; it uses 2/10 of 1% of the employee’s salary, which ends up being about $1.50 a week from the employee and employer. It does not add to the federal debt, and the office for regulation will be within the Social Security department. For more info, check out the fact sheet here.
Inevitably, the next question is: Why should I have to pay in to this program? Employers will not be paying employees on this leave program. The money will be drawn from a fund for all Social Security-eligible Americans. It is important to understand that this is not just a maternity leave program. It’s also for those with sick family members, and you never know when that may happen.
The FAMILY Act was introduced so that you never have to choose between a paycheck and your family. You may not agree with this bill, but there’s a good chance you’ll reap its benefits.
So please help us spread the word. Help us get the FAMILY Act passed and put some substance behind our so-called “family values.”