My Turn: Paid family leave is a win for families, employers
In a recent article (Sunday Monitor Forum, June 29), U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez addressed the need for paid family leave to be available for all working families and mentioned a related New Hampshire study which the 2013 Legislature assigned to the Legislative Task Force on Work and Family.
Paid family leave insurance is an employment benefit that enables employees time off to care for a newborn or adopted child, a sick family member or for personal illness. It is available to workers in every developed country except the United States and in most underdeveloped countries except Papua New Guinea, Liberia and Suriname.
The United States provides unpaid family medical leave, however 50 percent of America’s workers are either ineligible or can’t afford to take it. Three states – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island – have successfully introduced family leave as part of their Temporary Disability Insurance programs.
The New Hampshire Legislative Task Force on Work and Family was approved in 2007 to research employment policies and practices that help workers achieve better balance in their responsibilities to the workplace and to their families.
After several years of surveys and studies of employers and working families, regional meetings and co-sponsoring two summits on Work and Family for more than 350 participants, task force members learned that paid family leave insurance works and is attractive in recruiting younger workers.
Further, studies by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and others in California and New Jersey identified positive results for both workers and employers. More than 90 percent of businesses surveyed claimed that paid family leave was a benefit that improved morale, employee retention and showed no negative effects on profitability and productivity. The cost is approximately $1/week/employee/employer. Efforts are under way in Congress to introduce a national system.
Perez is right. Americans should not have to choose between jobs and family. A paid family leave insurance system is a proven employment benefit that works for both.
(Rep. Mary Stuart Gile of Concord is chairwoman of the New Hampshire Task Force on Work and Family.)