“This is a watershed moment for America’s working families. This week, we celebrate major anniversaries of two tremendously successful state paid leave programs in California and New Jersey that have provided tangible help to working families while paving the way for the national workplace policy changes the country urgently needs. The anniversaries come on the heels of last week’s historic White House Summit on Working Families, which brought together more than 1,500 lawmakers, businesses, workers, advocates and top administration officials, including President Obama. The event generated unprecedented attention to the needs of workers and their families, and the role that updated workplace policies will have in strengthening the nation’s economy.
Tomorrow marks the tenth and fifth implementation anniversaries of groundbreaking paid family leave programs in California and New Jersey, respectively, which were the first of their kind in the nation. Only Rhode Island has implemented a similar insurance program since the two programs were established; the first anniversary of its passage is also this month. Hundreds of thousands of workers in California and New Jersey have taken paid time off to care for seriously ill family members and new children thanks to the states’ programs — and the body of evidence showing the benefits of paid leave has grown significantly.
Studies of the paid family leave programs in California and New Jersey clearly demonstrate the positive effects of paid leave for workers, families, businesses and economies. From financial security for families, to workforce stability for businesses and less reliance on public assistance programs, California and New Jersey have shown that ensuring workers have access to paid family and medical leave is the right and common sense thing to do. As we heard from the president and leaders last week, it should be a priority for all employers and lawmakers.
At the federal level, the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act is a common sense proposal that is modeled off of the successful programs in California and New Jersey and longstanding state temporary disability insurance programs in those two states and in Rhode Island, Hawaii and New York. The FAMILY Act would bring the country’s employment safeguards in line with the needs of its workforce and with the rest of the world by creating a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. It has strong and growing support from the public, more than 400 organizations nationwide, businesses and lawmakers.
The new momentum around paid family and medical leave policies and these important anniversaries should inspire real action from employers and all lawmakers. The national conversation is growing and states are leading the way toward much-needed change. Congress and other states need to advance common sense paid leave policies right away.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.