It's time to join the industrialized world

When U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez swung through Silicon Valley talking about paid family leave, he headlined an event at SurveyMonkey, where he was followed immediately by LAS-ELC staff attorney Julia Parish.

Julia spoke about why LAS-ELC advocates expanding leave, even in California, which has been leading on the issue since becoming the first in the nation to offer paid family leave in 2004.

Actually, this is especially important in California: It’s still among only three states with paid family leave laws. And with two bills moving through the statehouse that low-wage workers will, for the first time there’s a chance that low-wage workers soon will be able to afford to take family leave. We’re cosponsoring both:

  • AB 908, reintroduced this year by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-LA), which would expand the time that parents may take off and increase state disability insurance payments, especially for low-income workers.
  • SB1166, introduced by Sen. Hannah Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), would extend job protections to more people who take leave.

Gomez said at the event in Palo Alto that he has adjusted AB 908 to address Gov. Jerry Brown’s objections, and he is optimistic it will pass and the governor will sign it. Perez said the “cost of doing nothing,” also the title of a paper he handed out, amounts to billions of dollars a year in lost productivity and extra hiring expenses for American businesses.

Let’s hope that Wired magazine (and others) are right in surmising that this year tips the balance.

Leaders from tech companies with generous paid parental leave policies, who also spoke at the Palo Alto event, all said the policies reduce costs and help businesses compete for talent. In fact, COO Jennifer Dulski said even the 18-week leave that her company offers pales on the international stage: “Almost all other countries have more generous policies than our super-generous policy at”

“On paid leave,” Perez said, “California is indeed what America should be tomorrow.” But, he said, “You shouldn’t have to win the boss lottery to get time off for the most important and exciting times of your life. And you shouldn’t have to win the geographic lottery.”

Quick Escape