What every working mom (and dad) needs on the job (May 7, 2015)

By Eileen Appelbaum, Fortune

Working families have much to celebrate this Mother’s Day as city councils and state legislatures across the country take up President Obama’s challenge to provide parents with paid time off so “they can afford to be there when their families need them most.” California, New Jersey and Rhode Island now provide paid maternity and paid family leave so parents can bond with a newborn or adopted child. Nineteen cities plus Connecticut, Massachusetts and California now allow workers to earn a few days of paid sick leave. Still, much remains to be done.

Employers understand that paid leave helps their companies with recruitment and retention, improves productivity, and reduces costly turnover. Indeed, employer-provided paid leaves are quite common for workers in the top quarter of the earnings distribution; 84% have paid sick days and 91% have paid vacation. Fewer than a quarter, however, get paid family leave, though most managers and professionals can cobble together at least some paid-time off for the birth or adoption of a child.

Among workers in the bottom quarter of the earnings distribution, though, 70% do not have even one paid sick days, barely half (49%) get paid vacation, and just 5% get paid family leave. Across the earnings distribution, 43 million private sector workers are without any paid sick days. These are the workers the President noted who “can’t even get a paid day off to give birth to their child.”

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