Due to a widespread lack of paid family and medical leave, workers have to make difficult choices between their careers and their caregiving responsibilities precisely when they need their paychecks the most, such as following the birth of a child or when they or a loved one falls ill. This lack of choice often leads workers to cut their leave short. It can also lead workers to forgo much-needed pay, leave the labor force altogether, or make poor-quality care arrangements for their children or other loved ones.
Our current lack of paid family leave requires workers to make impossible choices between work and family and hampers their economic security, and this burden clearly falls disproportionately on women. However, the solution to this problem is achievable: some individual companies have implemented their own family leave policies, almost all industrialized nations have a comprehensive national paid family leave program, and a small number of states have created successful family leave insurance programs. EARN groups are working to expand access to paid leave through all of these channels. In some cities and states, they are working on laws that would require employers to provide their employees with paid family leave. In others, they are helping to craft government insurance programs that would supplement wages during leave, and encouraging federal lawmakers to consider similar programs nationwide.
Because there is no federal law that ensures all workers are able to earn paid sick days, millions of workers throughout the United States are forced to go to work when they are sick. When someone goes to work while sick, they are less productive, more prone to mistakes, and more likely to spread a contagious diseases than if they stayed home. Lack of paid sick days is a serious problem, particularly for low-wage workers, who are far less likely to have access to paid sick days than higher-wage workers.
State and local laws that grant all workers the ability to earn paid sick days regardless of their job or wage level have provided critical financial security to workers and their families. Access to paid sick days allows workers to rest, get the health care they need, and fully recover from an illness before returning to work. It also allows workers to continue paying their monthly bills, even in the event of illness. EARN groups have researched the impact of paid sick days legislation on workers, businesses, and government budgets, and provided support to paid sick days campaigns in states and cities across the country.
Paid family leave helps more people stay in their jobs, increasing parental labor force participation, especially among women.