Tag: paid leave

Paid Leave Must Have a Place at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

The following is a statement from the Paid Leave for All coalition, of which 1,000 Days is part.

Dear members of WHCHNH Advisory Committee Members,

As parents, caregivers, early childhood and public health experts, race and gender equity advocates, social justice organizations, and on behalf of our tens of millions of members, we strongly urge you to include paid family and medical leave in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health and its national strategy. We recommend the White House continue to promote its original proposal of at least 12 weeks of inclusive and comprehensive paid family and medical leave for all working people as a public health imperative. 

Paid leave is a proven tool in addressing the United States’ most pressing health issues, whether it be mitigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, addressing breastfeeding needs in light of a national formula shortage, addressing our worsening maternal mortality rates, or improving our overall health outcomes and families’ well-being. It is also a tool for alleviating the systemic racism and sexism in health care, by allowing more people and those with more caregiving responsibilities access and time to care for themselves along with their loved ones. Yet only 23 percent of workers in this country have access to paid family leave through their jobs and we remain one of the only countries in the world without this protection. 

Paid leave is interconnected with a broad number of health indicators and outcomes. Workers without access to paid leave are more likely than workers with paid leave to experience financial and material hardships, including being more than twice as likely to be unable to pay for rent or utilities and twice as likely to experience food insecurity. Implementing paid leave in California, for example, reduced very low household food security by about two percentage points. Workers without access to paid leave are also more likely to be uninsured, have trouble paying for medical bills, and have less access to medical care because of the cost. A quarter are not confident they could come up with $400 for an unexpected emergency.

Paid leave is also a critical tool to support healthier pregnancies, better birth outcomes, more successful breastfeeding, and both physical and mental health in the postpartum period. This is particularly important while the United States faces a formula shortage—and has the worst maternal mortality rate among wealthy countries, disproportionately impacting Black women, and one that is worsening after COVID-19. Paid leave is critical to giving birthing people the opportunity to establish breastfeeding patterns as an option for their family, and we know that for those who are able and choose to breastfeed, it plays a powerful role in women’s health. Research has shown that breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of heart disease—the leading cause of death among women in the U.S.—as well as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type-2 diabetes, and hypertension later in life. It also has health benefits for the child, including improving the digestive and immune system. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently increased their recommended duration of breastfeeding to two years or beyond, a near impossibility for working families without access to paid leave. For low-income families in New Jersey, where a statewide paid family leave program has been in effect since 2009, researchers found that new mothers who use the state paid leave program breastfeed, on average, one month longer than new mothers who do not use the program. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, if 90 percent of women in the United States breastfed their babies for the first 6 months of life, it would save 900 babies’ lives and $13 billion in healthcare expenses annually.

We know that paid sick, family, and medical leave are critical to the overall health—including mental and emotional health—and well-being of working people, families, and whole communities. They are key to diagnosis, treatment and recovery, and the containment of disease. 

Every one of us is going to need to give and receive care in our lifetimes, and without a federal guarantee of paid leave, we will all suffer. We urge you to include paid family and medical leave in this conference and its related strategies, and to prioritize it across the administration. 

Additional Resources: 

We Need Action And Investment For Moms And Babies Everywhere

At 1,000 Days we know investing in a child’s first 1,000 days sets the foundation for all the days that follow – enabling children to grow, learn and thrive, and nations to prosper. Yet last night President Trump said very little about investing in young children and their families during his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress and the American public.

Today, as Congressional leaders gather to plan their agenda for the year ahead, we urge them and the Administration to prioritize the health and well-being of women, infants and young children in the United States and around the world. This includes ensuring:

  • Women and children have access to comprehensive and quality health care;
  • Young children and their families have access to affordable and nutritious foods;
  • Parents and caregivers have the support they need to give their children the strongest start to life, including through breastfeeding support and paid family leave; and
  • U.S. foreign assistance is invested in proven programs that enable all children and their families to thrive.

At 1,000 Days we remain committed to the belief that all children—regardless of where they are born—deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential. Achieving this vision will require smart investments and joint action; we hope to work with Congress and the Administration to move these priorities forward in the year ahead.

Walmart Expands Paid Leave for Some – But Not All – Workers

Yesterday, Walmart made headlines by announcing – among other things – that it would be expanding its paid parental leave policy. New mothers will now receive 10 weeks of paid leave and new dads will receive 6 weeks. That is, if they are full-time workers.

At 1,000 Days, we are pleased to see a corporate giant like Walmart take steps to address the needs of its workforce by expanding its paid parental leave policy. While this is a positive step forward for a share of Walmart workers, the expanded paid leave policy is still woefully inadequate as it does not cover part-time employees.

For children to have the strongest start in life, it is essential that all working parents, not just those working full-time, have access to at least 12 weeks of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child. Sufficient, comprehensive paid leave boosts the health and well-being of moms and babies, supports mothers’ ability to breastfeed, and increases families’ financial stability.

While it’s encouraging every time a business like Walmart recognizes the importance of paid leave, we cannot not settle for paid leave for some but not all working parents.

It’s time our lawmakers prioritize the health and economic security of families by enacting a comprehensive national paid leave policy.

Hopefully Walmart’s move will inspire our policymakers to act.

Trump’s Paid Leave Proposal: Not the Plan America’s Families Need

The words “paid family leave” made it into the Trump administration’s 2018 spending plan. This may seem like a step in the right direction, but 1,000 Days sees this for what it is: a second-rate policy proposal that does not meet the needs of America’s hardworking families.

The Trump plan would allow states to establish programs that provide six weeks of paid leave to new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents. For starters, six weeks of leave does not come close to meeting families’ care-giving needs. 1,000 Days supports a minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave for working parents upon the birth or adoption of a child. Furthermore, the President’s plan for paid leave is flawed in its proposed implementation. Built upon state unemployment insurance programs—the majority of which are underfunded and pay an average of just 46% of employee pay—it’s likely that America’s workers will receive just a fraction of their paycheck while on leave. Evidence from existing paid leave programs in states like California shows that when the wage replacement is too low, many workers—particularly low-wage workers, the vast majority of whom are women—cannot afford to take advantage of family leave. Given that states would have wide latitude to design the program the way they want, we don’t know what this program would look like, who would get which benefits and how much.

Details like this matter. And America’s families deserve better.

And while the inclusion of paid leave in the President’s budget is on the one hand a testament to the growing public demand for paid family and medical leave, it’s important to realize that it comes at the expense of health, nutrition and safety net programs that many families with young children rely on.

The time is now for Congress to act to support a well-designed and comprehensive paid leave program that truly benefits families. Earlier this year, Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Representative Rosa DeLauro introduced the FAMILY Act to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to all workers, regardless of the size of their employer, their gender, their marital status, or need for paid time off. Congress should dismiss the President’s paid leave proposal and get to work on passing common-sense legislation like the FAMILY Act to enable working families in the U.S. the opportunity to give their children the strongest start to life.

Working Families Need Flexibility, Not False Choices

We at 1,000 Days are very concerned about the Working Families Flexibility Act which is currently moving through Congress. This piece of legislation would have a significant impact on hourly workers – who are overwhelmingly low-income women, including millions of mothers with young children. While the bill sounds great in name, it misses the mark entirely in substance.

Instead of providing workers with the flexibility to spend time with their families – such as for the birth of a child – this bill would force people to choose between time-and-a-half overtime pay and paid time off – or “comp time” – when they work more than 40 hours in a week. This doesn’t give families the flexibility they need. Rather, it presents America’s hard-working families with a false choice between time and pay, when what they really need is both.

There are several problems with this proposal:

    1. Workers only earn comp time to spend with their families after spending more time away from them by working overtime.
    2. The bill does not guarantee that workers could use the time they earned (and banked) when they need it, such as for the birth of a child or a medical emergency. Employers would have the right to deny employees’ requests to use their comp time.
    3. The bill does nothing to address the need for all working Americans – not just hourly workers – to have guaranteed access to paid family and medical leave.

Working families do need flexibility, but this is not it. America’s workers should be paid for the time that they work – including overtime – AND have access to paid time off for personal and family needs. People should not have to work more than 40 hours in a week and forgo pay to earn the time they need to care for themselves and their loved ones.

Rather than putting forth piecemeal approaches that do more harm than good, Congress should focus on policies that improve the health and economic security of our nation’s families.

That’s why 1,000 Days is calling for a comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy – like the FAMILY Act – that helps ALL working parents in the U.S. give their children the strongest start to life.

Building Off The Momentum of #March4Nutrition

“Our boys are adopted. When we got our first son I asked for maternity leave and was told I could take a couple of days off if I found someone to cover your shifts. I got a 1/2 day off when our second son came and I got zero days when our third son came. I was at work when he was five days old.” – Gabrielle

“I went to WIC in tears when our daughter was two weeks old. We were still having latch issues. The two sweetest women worked with me. Without their support, I truly believe I would have given up. Fifteen months later I am still breastfeeding my little one. I can’t thank them enough.” – Sandra

“My daughter was born three weeks early, developed severe jaundice and was too weak to feed normally. She spent two weeks at the children’s hospital. Insurance covered nearly all of the $90k hospital bill, including meeting with the people who helped get us back to breastfeeding.” – Stacy

These are just a few of the powerful voices that we heard during our online “march” last month in honor of National Nutrition Month.

Over a span of 31 days, more than 60 mothers, fathers and families shared their personal experiences in nourishing their little ones. Many of the stories we received made us smile while others made us cry – but they all shed light on important issues impacting the health of moms and babies in America and around the world.

These issues range from access to high-quality health insurance, comprehensive paid family leave and defending America’s foreign aid investments that cover the cost of proven, life-saving programs.

We’re excited to build off this momentum and continue to stand with the 1,000 Days community on behalf of women and children here in the United States and around the world.

Statement on the Reintroduction of the FAMILY Act

In the United States, too many parents are forced to choose between the jobs they need and the families they love.

Without guaranteed paid time off from work, 1 in 4 women return to work just 10 days after giving birth and 40% of women do not reach their breastfeeding goals. Yet evidence shows that paid leave contributes to healthier outcomes for children and their families.

Parents need time to bond with their babies. Moms need time to recover from childbirth. And mom and baby need time to establish breastfeeding, which is proven to have significant health benefits for both women and children.

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without a national paid leave policy. America’s families deserve better and our children deserve the strongest start to life.

We applaud Representative DeLauro and Senator Gillibrand, along with their Congressional colleagues, for standing up for the health and economic security of all American families by introducing the FAMILY Act.

The Health of Moms and Babies Should Not Be Left To Luck

Through my work at 1,000 Days, I have had the opportunity to listen to countless stories from new moms across the country struggling with little or no paid time off.

Women like Samantha whose son was born three months premature and – after spending what maternity leave she did have at the NICU – was forced to make the horrible decision between caring for her son and returning to work. She decided to quit – a choice no new mother in this country should be forced to make.

I heard Stephanie’s story – a single working mom working at a high-end hotel restaurant, which offers no paid leave for new parents, yet offers healthcare for employees’ pets.

I even had the opportunity to share some of these stories with Members of Congress in Washington, DC. Earlier this year we teamed up with our colleagues at the National Partnership for Women and Families to deliver more than 230,000 signatures from men and women around the country calling on Congress to support paid family leave.

Six months ago my work became personal when I gave birth to my baby girl. And just like that I had something in common with all the women whose stories I had heard.

But here’s where my story differs – I had paid leave through my employer 1,000 Days. I was not forced to choose between my job and caring for my daughter. I am that lucky.

During my leave I was very aware of my luck.

In the sleep-deprived haze of those first few weeks of my daughter’s life, in which I was recovering from surgery and learning to breastfeed, I can distinctly remember thinking that I could not imagine going back to work after just two weeks. Yet so many new moms in America are forced to – 1 in 4 according to data from the Department of Labor.

I was incredibly lucky to have had the time I needed to care for myself and my daughter. But the health of America’s moms and babies should never be left to luck.

Parents need time to bond with their newborns. Moms need time to recover from childbirth. And mom and baby need time to establish breastfeeding, which is proven to have significant health benefits for both women and children.

While 80% of women initiate breastfeeding, only 50% of women meet their breastfeeding goals.

Right now we have a patchwork of policies, where some lucky Americans (just 12%) have access to paid leave through their employers. Some people live in states like California and Rhode Island with paid leave policies, and the rest are just…out of luck.

American families deserve better.

All workers in America should have access to paid leave – it’s in the best interest of all of us, as individuals and as a society.

Adrianna Logalbo
Managing Director
1,000 Days