Love him or hate him, President Obama has his sights set on revolutionizing how Americans deal with medial hardships and life-changing events. With free government health insurance to supplement existing accidental death and dismemberment insurance plans, employees have more safety nets in place now than ever, and if a new executive action passes, workers may have yet another safety net – one that allows them to spend more time with their families when they need to.
According to a LinkedIn post made by White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, President Obama will soon be signing a memorandum to give government workers a minimum of six weeks of paid leave upon the birth of a child. This allowance is not gender-exclusive, meaning that both mothers and fathers may be given a few weeks to spend with the newest addition to their family.
Of course, as we mentioned before, this isn’t an isolated effort. The White House isn’t just lobbying for more sick days for federal employees – they’re rooting for more paid family leave in businesses and workplaces all across America. While the White House encourages state-level government to look at the issues caused by a lack of paid leave, President Obama is urging businesses and employers to offer paid leave for families as soon as possible. Many White House democrats assert that paid leave is something more akin to a right than a privilege.
To many, this new push for paid leave is no surprise, especially when you consider that labor Secretary Tom Perez has been speaking out about these issues for some time now, comparing the US to other countries with more advanced family leave policies and describing the United States’ current position as “an embarrassment”. Since approximately 40% of the private sector isn’t guaranteed any paid sick days at all, it’s easy to understand where he’s coming from. The Family and Medical Leave Act does guarantee a select number of workers a 12-week leave in the case of a dying loved one or newly born child, but since this law doesn’t apply to many workers and it only guarantees unpaid leave, many are pushing for a new law that guarantees more security.
Obama will soon begin his campaign in support of the Healthy Families Act, a new piece of legislation being proposed to Congress that would give workers the option to accrue up to a full calendar week of unused sick leave per year. This would guarantee paid leave without forcing the employer to extend additional paid leave, but it has its opposition. Typically against laws like this, Republicans currently dominate both the House and the Senate, so while it’s unlikely that this act will be allowed to pass, the goal has been set and plans are in motion.
While it may be difficult to pass this law at a national level, all hope is not lost. As we mentioned before, Obama is constantly urging businesses and states to independently adapt this policy or something similar to help employees out in the time it may take to pass the Healthy Families Act. For the United States economy to thrive, it must provide employment opportunities that appeal to the very brightest and best, and if given a choice between paid leave and unpaid leave, many would understandably take the former.
How do you think businesses could improve their paid leave policies? Do you think this issue will be tackled on a national level, or will it slowly grow state-to-state? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!