Tuesday, March 27, 2007

In The News: Family Leave Insurance

The March 2007 American Prospect has a special report titled "Mother Load: Why Can't America Have a Family-Friendly Workplace?" The need for Family Leave Insurance is a running theme in the various articles. Here's a sample:

From The Architecture of Work and Family:
Although it was a critical first step, the [Family and Medical Leave Act] is fairly meager . . . the fact that the FMLA is unpaid renders it moot for large numbers of workers.
From What About Fathers?:
Although U.S. family-leave programs like the Family and Medical Leave Act have increased available options, because they are unpaid and available to only those working in large firms, they have not substantially relieved the burden on working fathers and mothers.
From Responsive Workplaces:
Many employers that offer workplace flexibility say that these practices improve their bottom line -- and research bears them out, in the form of fewer employee absences, lower health-care costs, and higher rates of worker retention.
. . .
Paid leave and supports such as child care carry costs, but these costs come with benefits, too. Paid sick days prevent contagion, paid family leave significantly enhances retention, and child care can improve worker productivity.
. . .
So, if family-friendly practices are good for business, are most employers offering paid family leave and child care? Far from it. Only 8 percent of workers in the private sector get these assistance programs from their bosses.
. . .
Some state and local governments have taken the lead in moving private employers forward. In California, a new law relies on the state's temporary disability insurance program to fund up to six weeks of paid family medical leave, with wages replaced at 55 percent of salary up to a cap.
Working Families aims to make New York the next state to offer Family Leave Insurance. Family Leave Insurance has gone a long way toward making workplaces more family-friendly in the countries that have implemented it. Which is to say, almost all of them - the US is one of just 5 countries in the world without Family Leave Insurance.

We can implement Family Leave Insurance by expanding New York's Temporary Disability Insurance program to also cover family needs. Workers would receive 12 weeks of benefits to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or for a seriously ill family member. This is a solution whose time has come.

Tell your Assemblymember to be part of the solution.

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