AAUW Public Policy Priority
AAUW promotes the economic, social, and physical well-being of all persons. Essential to that well-being are an economy that provides equitable employment opportunities; reduction of poverty; a living wage; quality, affordable dependent care; paid family and medical leave; safe, livable, and affordable housing; quality, affordable, and accessible health care, including reproductive health care; and a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
Unlike the majority of developed countries worldwide, the United States does not guarantee paid annual leave, paid time off for illness or family care, or paid parental leave. Without these policies, balancing the responsibilities of work and family can be difficult for employees, negatively impacting productivity, making recovery from major illnesses or injuries difficult, and in some cases inhibiting the healthy development of children. In addition, for the millions of Americans without paid sick days, a decision to stay home to care for a sick child or family member could jeopardize their job or family income.
Paid Family and Medical Leave: A Racial Justice Issue – and Opportunity published by National Partnership for Women and Children in August 2018 explores impact and consequences of systemic racism on paid leave.
Overview of current Federal Legislation
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced S.337, the Family & Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act), on February 2, 2017. Coverage includes but is not limited to parents, children, adopted/foster children, spouse, domestic partner, siblings, and self. Funding comes from payroll deductions from employer, employee. The bill was referred to Commerce & Finance Committee.
AAUW supports passage of the FAMILY Act, which would establish paid parental leave for most of the U.S. workforce. Balancing Work and Life: AAUW is committed to “greater availability of and access to benefits and policies that create a family-friendly workplace environment,” which are critical to women’s “equitable access and advancement in employment.” Paid family and medical leave, along with paid sick days, supports a work-life balance.
Senator Marco Rubio introduced S.3345, the Economic Security for New Parents Act, on August 1, 2018. Covers new children only, and funding comes from parents’ Social Security savings. AAUW is evaluating this legislation and has not yet taken a position.
Overview of Pennsylvania current state and Legislation
In 2017, Pennsylvania received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration to study paid leave in the Commonwealth. This link is to the final report. Pennsylvania_Final_Report Paid Family Leave
The effort to get paid leave in Pennsylvania is lead by PA Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces (https://www.paidleaveforpa.org/). Led by Women and Girls Foundation (western region) and PathWays PA (eastern region), the coalition is beginning a statewide campaign to secure paid family leave for all workers across the commonwealth.
TAKE ACTION as an Individual
- Subscribe to the Pennsylvania Paid Family Leave Newsletter at https://wgfpa.org/our-work/paid-family-leave/ .
- Share your own story and add your voice to support paid leave legislation in Pennsylvania.
- Contact your legislators about the importance of paid family and medical leave insurance for PA.
TAKE ACTION as a Branch
- Screen Zero Weeks, a documentary illustrating the paid leave crisis and the costs of doing nothing. Branches that held a community event to screen the movie are: State College. Fees for Zero Weeks films http://www.zeroweeks.com/licensing/
- Host a town hall. The Women and Girls Foundation and Pathways PA offer a tool kit which provides an explanatory video, access to the Zero Weeks documentary, and FAQs about the topic.