Our 2016 Voters for the Next Generation blog post series explores issues to support positive change that will make our country—and the world—a better place.
In this year's divisive election season, we've heard a lot about economic policy—mostly referring to taxes, interest rates, and international trade. Supporting working families is also an important part of the conversation.
Among all developed economies around the globe, the United States is the only country that does not guarantee paid maternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act, which was passed in 1993, provides up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave if an employee has a new baby or a serious illness in the family. But more than two decades after the FMLA was signed into law, parents across the United States still often face impossible choices between their family and their job.
The law comes with strict requirements—about 40 percent of the workforce is not even eligible—and it provides no guarantee that the leave will be paid. As a result, one in four mothers who take FMLA leave return to work within two weeks of giving birth, according to American Prospect.
The proposed Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which Seventh Generation supports, would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program for all employees.
The FAMILY Act will be reintroduced in early 2017 and includes the following:
- Up to 12 weeks of partial income when employees take time for their own serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery; the serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner; the birth or adoption of a child; and/or for particular military caregiving and leave purposes.
- Allowing workers to earn 66 percent of their monthly wages, up to a capped amount.
- Coverage of workers in all companies, no matter their size. Younger, part-time, lower-wage, and contingent workers would be eligible for benefits.
What We Believe at Seventh Generation
Leading businesses recognize that workers inevitably need time away from work to attend to health or family issues. Paid parental leave helps families stay on track to meet new expenses and provides parents needed time to bond with their child. Paid leave is also good for business, improving worker retention, productivity, and morale.
We strongly believe in paid parental leave at Seventh Generation—and we practice what we preach. Seventh Generation employees who give birth receive 100 percent of their salary for a 12-week period and we also offer four weeks of paid paternity and adoptive parent leave. Employees can take unlimited paid sick leave for themselves or for an illness in their immediate family. If our employees can find balance with their home life, we're confident they will be happier and more effective at work.
At Seventh Generation, we believe that paid leave must be a national priority to help our economy, our workforce, and above all, our families.
- The National Partnership for Women and Families promotes fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality and affordable health care, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.