It’s time we stop criticizing
paid family leave and give attention to the subject as a national economic
priority that it deserves. We hear from our opponents that mandating paid leave
will create a financial burden that can be costly for businesses to operate
their enterprises. On the contrary, there are multiple studies prove that paid
family leave does not burden employers. Additionally, paid leave help boost the
percentage of women return to the workforce, support middle-class families earn
steady earnings, and most importantly, improves overall child health and mental
development. We need public policies that encourage parents to care for and
bond with their infants without risking their ability to pay for necessities.
The United States must fall in line with the other advanced industrialized
nations and make this policy movement into a reality.
U.S. Lingers Behind Other Nations
Women make up a notable
percentage of America’s workforce, and many are the sole or primary
breadwinners for their families. Considering this fact, it is unfortunate that
the U.S. remains the only industrialized country that does not mandate paid
family leave. According to the International Labor Organization, U.S. lies in
firm opposite to nations, such as Bangladesh and Gambia that offer some form of
paid leave to expectant mothers. The U.S. despite having one of the world’s
most advanced economies, we linger considerably behind other nations and
domestic businesses in recognizing the significance of paid family leave.
Domestic Companies Stepped-Up
Many prominent companies,
such as Facebook, Spotify, Zillow, Netflix, Nestle, Twitter, Facebook, Etsy,
Twitter, Deloitte, and Google are at the vanguard of providing paid leave
demonstrating that competitive benefits do not compromise employee performance.
In fact, numerous domestic businesses have increased access to paid family
leave because businesses understand that these policies are mainly about
retaining highly skilled women who are expensive to replace. As companies look
for new ways to draw top talents, paid family leave has become a worthy
differentiator. For example, paid leave programs increases voluntary turnover,
which in result reduces the cost of hiring and training new employees.
According to a study by the state of California on the economic impact of paid
family leave found that the vast majority of businesses in California did not
see increased costs, and overall saved money because of decreased
turnover. Mandating paid leave will also
allow smaller companies to compete with larger firms, as this will level the
playing field by causing all employers to abide by the same regulations.
Reduce the Gender Pay Gap
A study by U.S. Department of
Labor states that paid leave promotes female labor force participation and
economic growth. Not having a mandated paid family leave forces many women to
choose between working and raising a family. According to research by the
University of Virginia, the percentage of women who work in the United States
has been dwindling. The result of gender inequity disproportionately affects
women from mainly lower socioeconomic backgrounds who eventually become
dependent on public assistance just to make ends meet. Additionally, job interruption is also a
significant contributor to the overall gender pay gap and can have a long-term
adverse influence on women’s potential to earn a higher income.
Benefits to Children
Paid leave allows new parents
time to care for their children and thus, providing them the best opportunity
at a healthy start in life. Studies have linked more extended maternity leaves
lower rates of post-partum depression, increases higher rates of child immunizations, longer duration of breastfeeding, and lower
infant mortality rate. When men take paternity leave, they’re more engaged as
fathers, which promote children to perform better in the area of cognitive development.
Paid family leave also provides parents the time to match appropriate care for
children who are considered to be high risk for any developmental difficulties.
As advanced as our nation is
technologically and economically, U.S. needs to recognize that paid family
leave will further strengthen American businesses’ competitiveness in the
global economy. It is time for our
policymakers to ensure the best future for our children, for our workforce, and
our economies, and by mandating a national family leave policy would be an epic
step in that direction.