Whether it’s the birth of a child, the serious illness of a spouse, or the end-of-life for a parent – we all need time to care for our families. Caring for a family is important work, and shouldn’t mean compromising our economic security.
Currently only 13 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave at work and fewer than 40 percent have access to medical leave through job-provided, short-term disability insurance.
The United States is one of only a few nations in the world that does not provide paid maternity leave to working mothers, and one of only a handful of economically advanced nations that does not guarantee the right to paid leave for fathers or workers who are providing care for seriously ill family members.
Four states have already established some form of paid parental or family leave: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York. In California and New Jersey, two states with long-standing paid family medical leave programs, the cost has been minimal at less than $1 per week for each employee.
Creating a paid family and medical leave program is likely to have economy-wide benefits such as reduced government spending on public assistance and increased labor force participation, which would bring concomitant economic gains, generating a larger tax base and increased consumer spending.
It’s time for Oregon to benefit from paid family and medical leave.