Women’s Leader Applauds Obama Administration for Bold, Unprecedented Action in Support of Family Friendly Workplace Policies

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

“The initiatives President Obama is set to announce tomorrow are the boldest action in support of family friendly workplace policies we have seen in a generation. They will establish new workplace standards that benefit millions of people, provide more support to help states establish their own paid leave policies, and send Congress a clear call to action to support America’s working families. This is fantastic news for workers, families and our economy.

By calling on Congress to prioritize passage of the Healthy Families Act and urging states and cities to continue passing similar measures, the president will signal his support for all workers’ right to earn paid sick days. By designating significant funding for states to research and establish their own paid family and medical leave programs, he will build on the progress we have already seen and foster further innovation. And by proposing six weeks of parental leave for federal workers and signing a memorandum that will give them access to six weeks of paid sick time to meet caregiving needs, he will demonstrate his deep commitment to increasing workers’ access to these policies.

Paid sick days and paid family and medical leave policies have been tested and shown to be effective across the country. Multiple jurisdictions have taken action to provide paid parental leave for local employees, some of which took effect on January 1. And several cities and states already have paid sick days and paid family and medical leave laws in place.* Taken together, the action announced tomorrow will make clear that the president and his administration recognize that all workers deserve these protections, no matter where they live and work.

The National Partnership applauds the administration for this historic move, which builds on the important conversation generated by the White House Summit on Working Families last year. As a large and growing body of research, and the experiences of millions of workers and businesses show, policies that enable workers to care for themselves and their families without risking their jobs or economic security are good for workers, families, businesses and our economy. The president has made his priorities clear. The nation will be much better off if Congress follows his lead.”

* Laws that guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days are already in place in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and Jersey City and Newark (N.J.), New York City (N.Y.), Portland (Ore.), San Francisco (Calif.) and Seattle (Wash.).

New laws guaranteeing workers the right to earn paid sick days will go into effect in 2015 in California and Massachusetts, several additional cities in New Jersey (East Orange, Irvington, Montclair, Passaic, Paterson, Trenton), Eugene (Ore.) and Oakland (Calif.). A similar law has passed in San Diego, California, and is pending voter review in 2016.

Statewide paid family leave insurance programs are in place in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, and temporary disability insurance programs (providing workers paid medical leave for their own serious health issues) are in place in those three states and Hawaii and New York.

About the National Partnership

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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