“Today’s hearing on the need for and benefits of paid family and medical leave policies, held in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions’ Subcommittee on Children and Families, will shed an important light on an issue that is critical for the nation’s workers, their families, businesses and economy. Demographic and economic factors, along with unprecedented national attention, make this is a timely and much-needed conversation in Congress. It is an honor to be testifying.
As a nation, we must come to terms with the fact that our current patchwork of paid leave policies is not working. Just 12 percent of the country’s workforce has access to paid family leave through their employers, and less than 40 percent has access to personal medical leave through employer-provided short-term disability insurance. And yet there is a growing understanding that the need for paid leave is nearly ubiquitous. For too long we have simply left individuals and families to search for solutions on their own. The moment to change that is now.
The urgent needs of families, strong public demand, compelling employer testimonials, positive data from states and cities that have adopted family friendly policies, and clear interest from those in the private and public sectors all signal that it’s time for progress. At this moment, lawmakers, employers and all of us must do what we can to transform America into a nation that truly reflects its family values, rather than what it has been: a nation that pays lip service to family values but takes little action.
The National Partnership applauds Chair Kay Hagan (D – N.C.) and members of the committee for taking time to consider the immense benefits of paid leave. We hope this hearing will spark intensive efforts to craft strong solutions. When people are no longer one new baby or serious illness away from financial devastation because they lack access to paid leave, our nation will benefit from stronger families and a stronger economy, and we will be better able to compete in the 21st century and beyond.”
Shabo’s full written testimony is available here.
The National Partnership for Women & Families drafted and led the fight for the Family and Medical Leave Act. The organization 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.