In an unprecedented effort to spur legislative action, 203 professors from the nation’s highest ranking business schools sent Congress a letter Tuesday, urging the passage of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, a law which would guarantee up to 12 weeks of partial income for employees on medical leave. Currently, a mere 13 percent of US workers receive paid family leave and less than 40 percent have access to paid medical leave.
The letter, signed by deans and professors from 88 revered institutions nationwide including The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, detail the benefits enjoyed by businesses that offer paid leave such as reduced turnover, controlled costs and increased productivity. This year, industry titans like Microsoft, Adobe and Nestle, expanded their paid leave policies, citing employee retention and recruitment as motivating factors.
Moreover, the authors underscore the positive impact of paid leave on employed women (who comprise nearly half of the paid U.S. labor force) and their families. In the year following the birth of a child, for example, new mothers with access to paid leave are more likely to stay in the workforce than those without and 54 percent are more likely to see wage increases as a result. Families in California, where statewide paid family leave policies like those proposed by the FAMILY Act have prospered since 2004, report positive effects on their ability to care for their children.
Today, the letter’s authors are confident the FAMILY Act will build on the successes of California’s paid leave program, as well as that of New Jersey and Rhode Island, creating a nationwide system of support “for all workers, no matter where they live or work.”
“At a time when companies are increasingly making paid leave policy changes to support their employees and the president just expressed his support for a national paid leave law for the first time, we, as a nation, have an opportunity to adopt a policy that supports the populations, workforces and businesses of today and tomorrow,” said Dr. Stewart D. Friedman, director of the Wharton School’s Work/Life Integration Project and the letter’s lead author. “The FAMILY Act is that policy.”
Media Resources: National Partnership Press Release 9/15/15; Wharton UPenn Letter 9/15/15; Pew Research Center 1/14/15;