Posts Tagged ‘paid leave’

Report: U.S. Can Learn From World on Implementing Paid Family, Medical Leave

We have many things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, but unfortunately widespread access to paid family and medical leave isn’t one of them.

Only three states have paid family and medical leave laws, and some companies have adopted them. But the “United States’ lack of a national paid family medical leave program makes it an extreme outlier among all other advanced economies, according to a report issued last week by the Center for American Progress based in Washington, D.C.

We should look beyond our shores for answers, says the report, says the November 19 report, titled Administering Paid Family and Medical Leave, Learning from Domestic and International Examples.

While the United States lags behind the rest of the world on the issue of paid leave, there is no compelling reason why it couldn’t create a national paid family and medical leave program, the report says, citing examples and best practices from other countries that the United States can draw upon to develop and implement paid leave. The report outlines the three broad types of structures for ensuring access to paid leave that have been used by states and other countries, and explains how they could function in the U.S.

Those three structures are:

  • Employer requirement programs, in which businesses are responsible for providing paid leave;
  • Social insurance programs, in which risk and resources are pooled to provide a fund for wage replacement during leave;
  • Publicly funded programs, in which government resources are utilized to provide workers with paid leave.

You can download the report from this link.





Paid Parental Leave Bill Introduced in U.S. House; Would Give Fed Workers Six Weeks Off

Maybe, just maybe, if Congress can see fit to provide paid family leave for federal employees the private sector will be inspired to do the same for their workers. At least one can hope that’s the case as a group of House Democrats on Monday introduced a federal workers paid leave bill.

The legislation would eligible federal workers six weeks of paid leave for purposes related to the birth or adoption of a child. The bill’s lead sponsor is Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). She’s hoping to get some Republicans on board also.

Under current regulations, federal workers are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave and can substitute paid sick and annual leave for part or all of that unpaid time.

Maybe this small step on the federal level will lead to changes downstream in the workplace. U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, for one, has criticized the country’s lack of paid leave laws.

Perez: U.S. Lagging in Paid Leave

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez has taken his country to task for being far behind the curve when it comes to paid leave laws. In a blog posting, the labor secretary said he realized just how far behind we are when he met last week in Australia with his counterparts from 20 major economies.

Bottom line: We are the only industrialized country that doesn’t have a paid leave law.

And that’s  not consistent with the lip service we give to the “family values,” he said.

Perez gave these examples:

  • Canada guarantees at least 15 weeks of paid maternity leave, with some employee cost- sharing as part of the national employment insurance system. Parental leave is 37 weeks shared between both parents with similar payments. There is also child care support of $100 per month for children under six.
  • The United Kingdom allows women to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave (including 39 weeks with pay), in addition to a range of options for paternity leave.
  • Australia offers up to 18 weeks of parental leave with financial support, and at 5.8 percent its unemployment rate is lower than ours. The conservative Australian government didn’t embrace this policy grudgingly; they made it a centerpiece of their campaign platform and want to extend it to 26 weeks with more financial support.
  • Brazil, with unemployment comparable to ours, grants women 120 days of leave at 100 percent pay.
  • Japan offers paid maternity leave at slightly reduced salary and benefits for up to 14 weeks of total leave. Moreover, Prime Minister Abe has made “Womenomics” – increasing GDP by boosting female labor force participation — a cornerstone of his governing agenda.

He concludes: “While the rest of the world leans in, we’re still falling behind.”

Read more from his blog.

Paid Family Leave Law Introduced in Congress

The United States is one of the few advanced industrialized countries that doesn’t guarantee paid leave under law for employees needing time off following the birth of a child or to take care of sick family members. A bill introduced recently in Congress would remove the U.S. from that list.

The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act-or FAMILY Act-would provide partial income for up to 12 weeks for new parents and other family demands, such as care for a sick family member, including a domestic partner.

Employees would in essence purchase this insurance by paying premiums from about $72 to $227 a year. The maximum benefit is capped at $4,000 a month.

As things stand now,  new parents and caregivers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the FMLA.

That was a progressive law when passed in 1993.

But a 2004 Harvard University study found that of 168 countries, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave. The U.S. was not among them.

Perhaps it’s time to take the next step and require a paid benefit for workers needing time off to tend raise newborns or tend to ill family members.

I doubt this proposal is going anywhere in Congress right now, but over time I think it has a chance of passage.

There are some more facts and figures on this law on the Center for American Progress’s website.

Feds Match Private Sector Requirement for Breastfeeding Breaks

Federal agencies are finally catching up to a requirement imposed last year on the private sector to provide female employees reasonable break time for breastfeeding their babies or expressing breast milk.

But like their private sector counterparts, female U.S. government employees don’t necessarily have a right to be paid during such breaks.

Female U.S. government employees have the right to “a reasonable break time to express breast work” but not necessarily to be paid while doing so, under rules outlined in a recent Office of Personnel Management memo.

The rules require women be given access to a private area, other than a restroom, that is shielded from public view and co-worker intrusion.

Though federal rules do not require compensation for employees who take breaks to breast feed or express milk, some federal agencies provide compensated breaks of 15 minutes each in the morning and afternoon that employees could use for breastfeeding, OPM said.

“The changes should bring the executive branch in line with the legislative branch,” the Washington Post reported. House office buildings have four private breastfeeding rooms and Senate offices and committees are expected to make accommodations for breastfeeding employees.

Women in the private sector are covered by a new mandate for breastfeeding breaks contained in the 2010 health care reform law.