The Important Of Paid Leave For Caregivers (September 27, 2017)
By: Joelle Saad-Lessler and Kate Bahn, Center for American Progress
In recent years, the public has engaged in a more rigorous dialogue about the dual demands of work and family and for modern workplaces that are more responsive to diverse family needs. Paid family and medical leave has emerged as an important step toward modernizing the workplace. Research consistently shows that both men and women—across race, ethnicity, gender, economic status, age, and political affiliation—support a comprehensive program to provide paid family and medical leave to assist with family caregiving or personal medical needs.1
A persistent partisan divide among lawmakers at the federal level, however, has stalled any opportunity for progress. Paid family and medical leave opponents in Congress reject calls for a comprehensive federal program and instead argue for lesser, voluntary measures. Amid this stalemate, the push for paid family and medical leave took on new energy when, for the first time, both of the major party candidates in the 2016 presidential election put forward their version of a paid leave plan. The Clinton plan proposed a national paid family and medical leave program, but the Trump plan was narrower, proposing a plan to offer solely paid maternity leave and no other types of paid leave.2 The narrower Trump proposal, which post-inauguration was modified into a paid parental leave proposal, reinforced the frequent narrative around paid family leave: It focused the most attention on the needs of new parents and less attention on other caregiving concerns, such as caring for an aging parent or ill spouse.