Economy Health Labor Rights On the Hill

Nearly 200 Businesses Urge Congress To Enact Federal Paid Leave Program

In a letter sent to congressional leaders on Tuesday, nearly 200 businesses are calling for a permanent federal paid family and medical leave program to become part of any future economic recovery legislation passed by Congress.

“We cannot emerge from this pandemic and remain one of only two countries in the world with no form of national paid leave,” reads the letter. “We need a policy that is inclusive and that protects all workers equally, regardless of what kind of work they do, where they live, or whom they love. Congress must work with the administration to build a framework for a permanent paid family and medical leave policy, so we’re never unprepared for a crisis again.”

The businesses that signed onto the letter include Spotify, Etsy, Pintrest, Levi Strauss and Co., Patagonia, Eventbrite, Goop, and Thirdlove.

As mentioned in the letter, the U.S. is one of only two countries that doesn’t have a federal paid family and medical leave program. Around 25% of U.S. workers do not have access to paid leave, with a larger percentage amongst low wage workers, most of whom are women and people of color.

“Paid leave is also a key element of addressing racial, class, and gender inequalities in the United States. With an equal paid leave policy in place, we can help stem the historic tide of women leaving the workforce and ensure that low-wage earners and people of color have the time they need to care for themselves and their families,” the letter states.

Polls show that a majority of those in the U.S. support a paid family leave program. Last month, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMILY) Act, which would create a permanent federal paid family leave program.

Heidi Zak, co-founder of the lingerie startup Thirdlove, says that as a business with a predominately female workforce and customer base, paid family leave is an important issue to her that has become even more urgent during the pandemic.

“An investment in this is an investment in women and the future of our economy,” said Zak. “Having some baseline for benefits in the U.S. is really important.”

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