Build Back Better Includes Historic Investment But Without Paid Leave Women Will Continue to Face Inequities

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

“The framework of the Build Back Better plan marks a historic investment in our care economy. We would be remiss, though, if we did not acknowledge that it is deeply disappointing that paid leave is not currently in the package. The pandemic painfully illustrated what advocates have been saying for years, that millions of workers - disproportionately women and people of color - cannot afford to take time off work to care for themselves or a loved one. It’s the heroes of the pandemic - hourly grocery store workers, frontline health care workers, childcare workers, and domestic workers - who live paycheck to paycheck and lack paid leave through an employer. Because of our lack of investment, tens of millions of hard working Americans are just one emergency away from financial ruin.

“The Build Back Better plan includes notable investments to help working mothers and caregivers, including investments in child care, pre-kindergarten, home and community based services and expansion of the Child Tax Credit. But without paid leave, millions of women will continue to be forced out of the workplace when an illness or urgent family care need strikes. Women will continue to shoulder the burden of balancing work and family responsibilities. And as long as the U.S. continues to be one of the few countries without a paid leave policy, we are making it clear that we as a country and a society do not value caregivers, who are mainly women and people of color.

“Our fight for paid leave doesn’t end today. After 40 years of talking about paid family medical leave, the public is more than ready. And recent polling shows that paid leave continues to be one of the best selling points of the Build Back Better agenda and helps to bring the public along in support. Since the Family Medical Leave Act was signed into law 28 years ago, the National Partnership has worked steadfastly to ensure any worker who takes time off to care for themselves or a loved one doesn’t have to risk a paycheck or their job. We will continue to fight for paid leave because without it, systemic inequities will continue to undermine the financial stability of women and people of color across the country.”

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 all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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