November 18, 2022

New Report Shows Paid Family and Sick Leave Essential for Women Remaining in the Workforce

A recent report from the Paid Leave for the US (PL+US), one of the leading campaigns to deliver federal-level paid family and medical leave has important findings about issues near to our hearts and our practice. 

Surveying global businesses in coordination with the Parental Leave Corporate Task Force, PL+US made a comprehensive study of workplace policies, employee/employer relations, and the ways that a variety of businesses have handled the pandemic and paid leave issues. In addition to their findings, the report highlights numerous steps companies can improve the conditions for workers.

According to the Key Findings press release, one important insight was that employee morale was deeply connected to paid leave policies at businesses. Businesses that had comprehensive and clear plans for paid leave led to higher satisfaction from employees and reduced attrition and worker turnover during 2020.

Another, which we have been writing about extensively since the pandemic began is that strong parental paid leave policies can have a positive impact on female employee retention. As we’ve noted, women are leaving the workforce at a staggering rate, in large part to deal with parental obligations brought on by the crumbling of the private childcare industry and domestic work and the repeated closure of schools since coronavirus hit the U.S. in late February and early March. 

PL+US argues that such parental leave policies must be equitable and proactive. Specifically, companies must find ways to encourage men to take on increased responsibility in the sphere of social reproduction. By creating comprehensive policies that promote job security while allowing parents to deal with domestic obligations will go a long way to keeping women in the workforce.

However, as the PL+US release concludes, the pandemic has demonstrated how desperately the U.S. needs universal, federal childcare and paid family and medical leave. With laws on a state by state basis, or sometimes left up to the designs of private employers, there has been no coherent response to the fallout from the lockdowns. With federally guaranteed parental leave, the economic impact of future pandemics, which are likely, can be mitigated.

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