US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said in an interview Wednesday that paid family leave is one of the most critical issue facing working families today.

“So many people don’t have the luxury of taking an hour away from the workplace to attend indispensable family commitments,” Perez said on HuffPo Live Wednesday. “What we have to do right now, is again, bring our policies into the 21st century.” The US Labor Secretary said he was allowed to skip a Cabinet meeting recently for a more important appointment: his daughter’s graduation.

On Monday, the White House will convene its Summit on Working Families. The event will address equal pay, the federal minimum wage, paid leave, and a host of other challenges. 

According to a United Nations survey of countries, the US is one of only four countries without paid family leave and one of only three that doesn’t mandate paid maternity leave. Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-NY) Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act allows four weeks of paid leave after the birth or placement of a child; the FAMILY Act, introduced in December 2013 by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would grant up to 12 weeks of paid family medical leave to millions of workers. Both pieces of legislation are stalled in Congress.

Media Resources: Huffington Post 06/18/14; UN Report: The World’s Women 2010; Feminist Newswire 12/12/13; Rep. Carolyn Maloney

 

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