A new study has found that businesses support paid family leave programs in a major way — a development that may help the government offer paid family leave or FMLA to more than just federal employees.
Unless you’ve been stuck under a rock, or you aren’t a parent, you probably know that the United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t guarantee federal paid family leave to its workers.
While it’s been unconscionable that the United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t guarantee paid leave — whether it be sick leave or paternity leave — to its workers beyond paid parental leave for federal employees.
Businesses Are Showing Support For Federal Paid Family Leave
But during a pandemic—when that safety net takes on an extra sense of urgency—it’s simply cruel. As the government has failed to step in, businesses have been the ones to decide whether or not to offer paid leave as a benefit. And a new study shows that now, more than ever, businesses see the benefit of offering paternity leave to employees.
A new study surveyed more than 40 American companies and U.K.-based companies with U.S. operations. They found that 75 percent supported a government leave plan.
Business Support For Paid Parental Leave Could Change The Game
That’s good news, as employers have an enormous amount of political power. Having companies advocated for additional government-mandated leave policies that they would surely have to pitch on either through taxes or another funding mechanism is a good sign that paid leave may be on the way soon.
Here’s Why Businesses Are Supporting Paid Family Leave
The likely motivation for this change beyond the economic and medical devastation of the pandemic? It’s the growing body of evidence that guaranteed paid leave is good for employers too, making it good business, not just good ethics.
“The benefits for businesses … far exceed the costs,” Karen White of Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University said. “The research shows that workers are more motivated, they are more productive, they have higher morale. The employers are better able to retain workers, and they reduce their turnover costs. It really is a win-win.”
But objective evidence and support from more stakeholders does not a law make. Some cities and states have implemented their own paid medical and/or family leave laws, but there is still no permanent national guarantee of such a benefit.
When Will We Get A Real Paid Family Leave Program?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed by President Trump in March, included two weeks of paid sick leave and up to 10 weeks of paid family or medical leave for employees of companies with fewer than 500 workers.
That benefit expired at the end of 2020, and President Biden’s more generous proposal—14 weeks of paid sick, family, and medical leave that will be available to as many as 106 million more Americans—would also be a temporary measure, although he’s signaled support on the campaign trail for a permanent plan for parental, family, or medical leave, as well. There’s no reason to see that he wouldn’t do it within his first presidency.
And now that the business community supports some form of paid family leave, the pressure is on the government to give more families what they need to thrive.