Policy Update: June 12, 2015
A quick look back at events this week impacting women and families, from Valerie Young, a public policy analyst with Mom-mentum.
More incremental progress on the paid leave front this week. Billionaire businessman Richard Branson has decided to grant some employees one year of paid parental leave. It will be available to both mothers and fathers at Virgin Management in London and Geneva, about 140 employees altogether. Branson cites his experience as a father and grandfather, as well as business productivity, as reasons for his decision, according to The Washington Post. “As a father and now a granddad to three wonderful grandchildren, I know how magical the first year of a child’s life is but also how much hard work it takes.” Amen, brother! For those of us in the US, however, the outlook remains bleak. Observes HuffPo, “That said, the United States, as the only developed country with no guaranteed paid parental leave for mothers or fathers, has a long way to go.”
Oregon has moved its paid sick days bill through the state Senate on a 17 – 13 vote along party lines. If it survives the House, it will provide 5 annual paid sick days to workplaces of 10 or more employees. Oregon could be the fourth state with paid sick days policy, behind California, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Two cities in Oregon, Portland and Eugene, have already instituted paid sick days programs. Currently, it is estimated that about half the private sector workforce and 80% of low income workers don’t have even a single paid sick day.
Chipotle announced plans to increase benefits to all workers, even part-timers, starting July 1. Paid sick days, paid vacation, and tuition reimbursement will be served up to its 53,000+ employees. The Healthy Families Act, which would institute paid sick days nationwide, is stalled in the US Congress, so some states and businesses are moving forward alone. The benefits to public health when food service employees can avoid spreading infectious diseases by staying home may not be obvious to our elected leaders. But it’s clearly good business.
Child care allows parents to go to work. High quality, affordable child care is a two generation economic stimulus program. In the long term, it sets kids up for maximal academic achievement and the development of soft skills, like resilience, sharing, cooperation and grit. In the short-term, parents can focus on work when they know their children are safe and in developmentally appropriate environments. But in the US, child care is treated like a personal problem rather than a basic minimum labor standard. In some states, some low income families get some help from state programs, according to this article from the New America Foundation.
And to wrap up and head us into the weekend, let’s remember that the double standard is alive and well! “Researchers found when a female employee clocks out before the work-culturally acceptable time, her colleagues are more likely to think: She’s probably off to pick up her kids. If a male employee checks out early, they may think: He’s off to meet clients” says the Washington Post in Why women are judged far more harshly than men for leaving work early.
Please make sure to check out my post for Brain Child Magazine on What’s A Mother Worth? and let me know what YOU think in the comments. Thanks!
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Photo: DopledPhoto: Dreamstime.com – Pregnant Mother Working In Home Office With Son Photo