Taking Care of Our Own: Paid leave goes from progressive pipe dream to political reality (May 19)

By Lauren Sandler (The New Republic)

This January, in his state of the union address, President Obama did something that no president has ever done in a venue of this importance: He called for paid family leave. “We are the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave—forty-three million. Think about that,” he said.

The White House believes it has an opportunity to push for comprehensive paid leave. “The economy is recovering,” Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett told me in April. “Employers can take a deep breath, step back, and say, ‘Now that we’ve survived and come out of a very challenging time, what can we do to ensure our companies are globally competitive?’ Plus there’s the change in the demography of the workplace—now women comprise over half of the college-educated workplace.” The time, it seems, is now, although some might wonder what took so long.

It is astonishing, when you think about it, that paid leave has only entered the national political discourse in a meaningful way in 2015, with little help until recently from major political figures.

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