Facts Over Fear: States’ rights, paid family leave and the need for federal policy

Produced By: - January 18, 2024 7:37 pm

If your child falls ill, would it be possible for you to take a few weeks off of work? Or one of your parents had surgery and you needed to leave work to care for them, how would your place of employment respond? Should paid leave be for all?

Paid family leave has been a controversial topic in this country for decades, but now several states are working on legislation to ensure it becomes law.

More than 4 million workers in Pennsylvania66%do not have paid family leave through their jobs, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families, while 61% of Pennsylvanians do not have access to unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act – forcing them to choose between work and family.

A number of critics of paid leave contend that allowing workers to take time off for family issues or health emergencies will damage the economy as well as businesses who are unable to afford to let workers take extended leave.

But many who are advocating for it say that, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor Paid Leave Report, a majority of businesses support a statewide paid leave program. Women who take paid leave are 39% less likely to utilize public assistance and 78% of Pennsylvanians strongly favor a statewide paid leave program.

By ignoring the will of the people, the challenges facing us including the rising cost of living, lack of universal health care or childcare as well as an aging populationwill continue to cripple our ability to compete on a national and global scale.

When we support paid leave for all, we ensure that people in particular womenwon’t have to leave the labor force to care for their families and fall into poverty.

By uplifting people and providing social safety nets that catch them in their time of need, only then can we build a healthy and prosperous nation. And that my friends, is a fact.

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Natalie Bencivenga
Natalie Bencivenga

Natalie Bencivenga is a socially conscious journalist and hosts a weekly show on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Follow her on Instagram at NatalieBencivenga.

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