President Clinton announced two new proposals that will help parents to spend more time with their children during a commencement speech he gave Sunday at Grambling State University. Clinton told the crowd, “If you or any American has to choose between being a good parent and successful in your careers, you have paid a terrible price, and so has your country.”
The President cited a 1996 Commission on Family and Medical Leave study that found that many parents were unable to take advantage of the unpaid leave time guaranteed them under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because they could not afford to give up their pay, even for just a few weeks.
Clinton also shared findings from a study conducted by his Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) that found that parents today have far fewer hours to spend with their children than they did just 30 years ago. The report, entitled “Families and the Labor Market, 1969-1999: Analyzing the ‘Time Crunch,'” found that parents today spend 22 fewer hours week (14 percent) than they used to spend with their children just thirty years ago. Dual-earner households, single-parent households, and longer workdays were cited as reasons for the decline.
In response to these problems, the Clinton Administration has offered two proposals. First, President Clinton has asked the Secretary of Labor to help draft legislation that would allow states to allocate their surplus unemployment insurance funds for use by new parents.
Second, President Clinton has authorized the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to revise its regulations so that federal workers to use up to 12 weeks (up from current limit of 13 days) of earned sick leave to care for seriously ill family members. The President encourages other employers to follow his lead by enacting similar policies.
In addition to these two new proposals to aid parents and families, the President also plans to submit initiatives to improve child care and after-school programs. These initiatives, along with other proposals to expand and increase use of FMLA, will be submitted as part of the President’s balanced-budget request.