We joined our partners in signing a letter urging Congress to keep the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act provision in the National Defense Authorization Act conference Agreement. There is a growing consensus across the country that paid leave is a necessity, and passing this measure would bring us one step closer to achieving paid leave for all!
Policies that support working women and families are often not only a matter of economic justice, but also an urgent matter of public health. On National Women’s Health Day, here are four federal policies we must pass to ensure the health of working women and their families.
The federal government is the nation’s largest employer—and its employees receive no paid family and medical leave. Congress currently has the opportunity to change that by passing the Federal Employees Paid Leave Act (FEPLA), which would bring paid leave to more than 2 million Americans.
When Natasha Jackson asked her employer for a modest pregnancy accommodation to stay healthy and working, her employer instead forced her off the job as the highest ranking account executive at a Rent-A-Center. They pushed her onto unpaid leave and ultimately terminated her. Without steady income, she and her husband had to abandon their plan to buy a house and were left unable to support their growing family. But now, Natasha is advocating for change: this week, she headed to Capitol Hill to call on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, so women across the country no longer must face the impossible choice between their health and their economic security like she did. “I am asking you to stand up for women like me so we can have an equal opportunity to support our families while protecting our health,” Natasha said.
The nation’s 2.5 million domestic workers are excluded from the vast majority of federal and state laws granting basic workplace rights and protections, and there is little means of enforcing the protections they do have. This needs to change. We’re proud to support the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which would ensure that domestic workers—including nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers—have the same fundamental rights as everyone else and are not left vulnerable to exploitation.
This weekend, Oregon passed a robust and inclusive paid family & medical leave law, becoming the ninth state to do so nationwide. The law will provide up to 12 weeks of income to those who need to take time off work to recover from a serious health condition, care for a seriously ill loved one, or welcome a new child, with an additional two weeks of leave available for pregnancy-related complications.
On the heels of the release of A Better Balance’s new report “Long Overdue,” U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-W.A.), Lucy McBath (D-G.A.), and Bobby Scott (D-VA) today introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).
While federal progress has stalled since the FMLA, states and cities have come up with innovative policies for filling in the gaps that persist. And we won’t stop fighting until all workers have a real right to the leave they need when they need it the most.