A recent editorial by Jeremy Adam Smith, author of the Daddy Shift makes a great case for how paid family leave is not only good for business, but is “good for guys and their marriages.” A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research indicates that… …over 90% of employees who used paid leave (with partial wage replacement) said it “had a positive effect on their ability to care for their babies,” and improves a dad’s bonding with his newborn.
California has had this kind of program since 2004 and the Obama’s 2011 budget has $50 million to help other states establish these kinds of programs. As you might expect the political right doesn’t buy that it wouldn’t hurt business. But the CEPR survey shows otherwise; it reports that California’s program had “no or very little impact on their business operations,” a whopping 89% surveyed said it had no or positive effect on productivity, 96% claim it reduced employee turnover, and 99% said it improved morale.
The proposal has been cut to $10 million and is currently in congressional gridlock. I have to agree with Smith that there seem to be few or no downsides to giving new moms and dads time with partial pay. But even though only 7% of men and about half of America’s women presently have access to this kind of leave, federal funding for it ultimately might not make the cut, given the country’s budget woes.
If it does survive some level of funding, this is where inequities kick in. Those with and without children can take the six week leave to care for ill family members. Fair. But while parents can also use the six weeks to care for their new baby, those without children (yet or by choice) don’t get that time.
This kind of benefit, along with tax credits for parents, are examples of how policy unfairly favors those who choose to reproduce. What is more fair? Broaden the boundaries of what “family leave” can mean so leave policy is offered to all employees under more circumstances. Having children be a focal point of “family” policy continues to, as Elinor Burkett’s Baby Boon says in its title, “cheat the childless.”
What do you think would be fair?