350 Businesses Worth $750 Billion Push for Federal Paid Leave: “Isn’t It Time?”

350 businesses have affirmed their support for a federal paid leave plan, citing economic benefits and boosted employee morale.

On April 27th, more than 350 business announced their support and renewed calls for passage of a federal plan for paid family and medical leave. At present, the United States is one of only a handful of OECD countries worldwide that doesn’t provide any sort of federal paid leave, along with Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Suriname, Tonga, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Palau. Despite staggering, bipartisan public support, an economy that would be better off for it, and a workplace that would be fairer and easier to manage with it in place, President Biden’s landmark Build Back Better Act, which would provide paid leave for parents and caregivers, stalled in the Senate, wiping away many Americans’ hopes that paid leave — even just a few weeks of it, as he whittled his plan down to four weeks in an attempt to get it passed, would ever become a reality.

Despite that, business leaders around the country have reaffirmed their commitment to the development of a federal paid leave policy. With the help of Paid Leave for the United States, (PL+US) a non-profit advocacy group, the heads of companies like Spotify, Pinterest, Levi’s Patagonia, Etsy, who were vocal in their support of the Build Back Better Act, and Airbnb, Chobani, DoorDash, Dove Men+Care, Keen, and Reddit— brands new to the fight—along with hundreds of other brands and companies, issued a statement announcing their support for government action on the paid leave crisis. They included “five core principles” that their businesses collectively embrace:

  1. Paid leave is a fundamental element of addressing racial, class, and gender inequalities.
  2. Paid leave leads to better talent attraction, employee retention, and improved employee morale, contributing to greater business stability and viability.
  3. A federal paid leave program should be inclusive and protect all workers equally, regardless of what kind of work they do, where they live, or whom they love.
  4. A federal paid leave program should be comprehensive and support working people when they welcome a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, or care for one’s own serious illness.
  5. Everyone should be able to be there for their families in the moments that matter most. When families thrive, we all thrive.

“American workers shouldn’t have to choose between the job they want and the family they love. A strong investment in paid leave and child care would make the U.S. more competitive and would help rebuild a more inclusive and equitable economy,” Jenna Johnson, President of Patagonia, Inc., said in a statement.

The renewed push comes as Americans struggle with inflation and labor shortages, and many families are being crushed under the weight of debt accrued while they’ve taken unpaid leave from work to care for themselves or their families as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

“The most important job every parent has is taking care of their children. At Chobani, we have always put family first and are proud to have helped inspire more employers to offer full paid parental leave. Isn’t it time our nation’s leaders step up to ensure every parent in America has the time, ability, and means to bond with and care for their child?” Mark Broadhurst, Vice President of Impact & Advocacy of Chobani, said.

President Biden has indicated his dedication to paid leave reform in the U.S. despite his BBB act grinding to a halt. Earlier this year, during the State of the Union Address, the President mentioned paid leave and released a statement addressing his commitment to ensuring families aren’t forced to choose between work and caring for loved ones. His updated plan is still under wraps, but there are indications that it will rely on tax credits for employers who provide workers with paid leave.