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What You Can Do About Paid Family Leave
In 2020, we found the 95% of the Yumi audience remain women. Perhaps this stagnant statistic does not surprise you. Such extreme lopsidedness reflects a reality virtually every mom knows to be true — women are overwhelmingly expected to make the bulk of household decisions. Nevermind that 70 percent of moms are also part of…
In Decemeber of 2020, Yumi surveyed over 1,000 working parents across 48 states. Of those who identified as working moms, 61 percent said they were concerned about the psychological health of their children. Over 55 percent said they felt additional pressure during the pandemic to choose between their careers and their families.
While some women opted out of the workforce, many were forced out entirely. Overall, women lost a net of 5.4 million jobs during the recession—nearly 1 million more job losses than men. According to Nicole Bateman and Martha Ross from the Brookings Institute, “COVID-19 is hard on women because the U.S. economy is hard on women, and this virus excels at taking existing tensions and ratcheting them up.” (1).
The price we pay for abandoning mothers in the workforce is not just a debt today. It is debt that stretches far into the future as our daughters and sons and their subsequent children are fated to repeat the patterns in which they were raised.
The reality is we need Paid Family Leave. At Yumi, we support PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States), a national campaign and non-profit fighting for high quality paid family leave and medical care.
Here, we talk with PL+US Senior Advisor Orli Cotel, on pushing for policy change and our national caregiving crisis.
2020 and the pandemic saw unprecedented burdens placed on working parents, and specifically, working mothers. Are you seeing any current workplace trends that might offer hope to working parents?
We have a national caregiving crisis in the U.S. that existed long before the pandemic, but which the pandemic really made visible. Business leaders are now realizing the immense contributions made by working parents, and finding new ways to support them such as providing more flexibility for people in jobs that can be done from home. Many of these benefits, however, are not available to low-wage working people and this disproportionately impacts people of color. The thing that makes me most hopeful is the very real possibility that we could pass national legislation this year and help bring real relief to the millions of people who need to be there for their families.
“We have a national caregiving crisis in the U.S.”
Many places offer some form of maternity leave. But what does passing high quality paid family leave look like?
While more employers are starting to offer paid leave, the sad reality is that 113 million people still don’t have even a single day of paid leave. One particularly heartbreaking story comes from a dad who was a security guard in New Hampshire. He called his boss to say that his wife was in labor and he would have to miss work because he was driving her to the hospital to have the baby. His boss told him, “If you don’t come to work today, you’re fired.” He had to choose between his family and his job — and sadly, this is not an anomaly. 93% of low-wage working people don’t have any paid leave at all, and 1 in 4 new moms is back at work just two weeks after childbirth.
What are some stigmas around paid family leave that we as a country still need to break?
Too many people who qualify for paid leave are afraid to take their full leave, because they are concerned that their supervisors and colleagues will think they’re not serious about their jobs. In recent years we’ve seen more CEOs and executives taking their full leave in order to model that behavior for the rest of the company, which is a good step forward. First, we need to win paid leave for the millions of people who still don’t have any, and then we need to address the stigma and change culture so that everyone feels able to take it.
There is also certainly stigma around men taking extended paternity leave. Why is it important that we extend benefits to both parents?
Men today want to be able to bond with their babies and care for their partners. When dads take paternity leave, it leads to better outcomes for the whole family. These positive outcomes extend beyond just physical and mental health, as it creates a paradigm of shared household responsibility that lasts far beyond the baby’s first months. When both men and women can take leave, it shows that caregiving is everyone’s responsibility.
What is the current proposal?
The current proposal in Congress is for a national paid leave program for 12 weeks, paid for by the federal government at no cost to employers, so compa- nies are eager to help pass it since they see that it’s good for business and their bottom line.
This is an initiative that receives consistent bi-partisan support. So why is it so hard to pass a permanent solution?
83% of Democrats and Republicans support paid leave. But while the issue has broad support, up until now our elected officials have not been prioritizing it. The pandemic has thrust caregiving into the center of the national conversation, and our leaders also want to help stem the tide of the 2 million women who have left the workforce. There’s growing understanding from lawmakers that paid leave is good for families and businesses and that a national paid leave law would help our economy. They need to hear from people in their districts asking them to pass paid leave — which is where Yumi families come in!
Yes! What can our Yumi families do to support your endeavors?
Email your member of Congress and ask them to pass national paid leave this year! You can do that at https://paidleave.us/email-your-moc
Your Senators need to hear from you, and your emails make a huge difference in raising the priority of this critical issue.
Share this with your friends and family to help create a groundswell of support to pass paid leave for everyone.