National Partnership for Women & Families

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Debra L. Ness, President

From the desk of ... Debra L. Ness

The Kind of Paid Leave Program the Country Needs

Sometimes we simply have to pause to say: Wow!

At the National Partnership, we’ve pioneered education and advocacy to advance family and medical leave in this country. There were lonely times – decades, really – during which we and a few dedicated partners advocated for the common sense leave policies that we knew would benefit workers, families, businesses and the economy.

Those days are over.

This year, we have been proud and grateful as leaders at company after company enacted or expanded their paid leave programs and then talked publicly about the many ways that doing so is strengthening their workforces, corporate cultures and bottom lines. It’s fair to say that a growing number of corporate leaders are ahead of congressional leaders – and many state lawmakers – on this issue.

And this week, one company really got it right. Yesterday, Deloitte announced 16 weeks of fully paid family leave for its employees. What makes its program so strong is that the paid leave can be used not just to care for a new child, but also to care for a spouse or significant other or for aging parents.

Since shifting demographics mean a tsunami of elder care needs is about to bear down on us, we want to take a moment to applaud Deloitte for enacting the kind of family and medical leave program our country needs.

There’s much more work to do, of course, at this time when only 13 percent of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than two in five have access to personal medical leave through employer-provided short-term disability insurance. A federal law creating a paid family and medical leave insurance program that covers all workers in our country is needed now, more than ever. But Deloitte’s program, with its inclusion of elder care, is a very welcome model. Wow!


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