Paid family leave is a critical component of reproductive freedom, and everyone deserves the dignity and financial stability that it offers. Without it, parents don’t have the time needed to heal from childbirth, and families don’t have time to bond with their new babies; families may face greater challenges in creating stable and nurturing homes for their children, and working people sometimes must risk their livelihoods to care for sick or injured family members.
Paid family leave is inextricably linked to economic opportunity. When parents are forced to abandon caring for their children or relatives for a paycheck, the whole family suffers.
And yet the United States is one of only two nations in the world that does not guarantee paid family leave for working parents.1
Current law is woefully inadequate. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires larger employers to allow a new parent up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth of a child. That means the law only guarantees that new parents can take time off from work if they can afford to do so.
This leaves nearly half of working women without job protection if they choose to start or grow a family.2 Further, the law doesn’t protect working people at companies with fewer than 50 employees, leaving millions of Americans without adequate workplace protections.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is working to address this woeful shortcoming in Virginia. We are working to pass the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act in the 2018 General Assembly session. The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act would guarantee relief for new parents as well as caregivers with sick family members who need their attention. New parents shouldn’t be forced to return to work in as little as a week after giving birth or risk losing their jobs. No caregiver should be forced to choose between their job and taking care of a sick family member. All parents, including those who adopt, deserve quality time to nurture their children and care for their family members without the fear of financial instability. A paid family leave program will stop employers from denying new parents that precious time and will provide all families with the dignity of paid time off to care for loved ones.
1 International Labour Organization, Maternity and Paternity at Work: Law and Practice Across the World