Births, illnesses, and death are a reality of life, and governmental policy should accommodate for it. We should have a policy that insures economic security during our most vulnerable moments, when we are caring for and bonding with a new child, caring for an ailing loved one, or fighting for our own lives. California and New Jersey (in addition to all but three countries in the world) have established successful paid leave programs. In California and New Jersey, these are employee and employer funded insurance programs that cost pennies per person but insure that people do not lose their jobs or their livelihoods to take time off. Studies show that these policies improve breastfeeding rates, lower costs of healthcare by reducing the need for nursing and home aide care, increase women's employment rates during the year following a birth, lower turnover and replacement costs for business, improve infant health, improve outcomes later in life for children whose parents had paid leave, lower welfare costs by keeping people off cash assistance, and the list goes on. The U.S. is one of only three countries in the world that lacks paid leave, and it is time to end this national embarrassment and improve the lives of all families.
Of course, having the opportunity for paid leave in the case of emergency or medical need is good for the worker. There are concerns that it will end up costing employers more and being a drain on the economy. These concerns have merit, but studies have usually found that the greater morale and job security of works who have benefited from it is instead a net benefit to the economy, too.
As has been shown time and time again, Americans overwork themselves to the brink of exhaustion at every opportunity. Europe is the model that we should follow in terms of paid leave. Because of this, the United States needs to expand the amount of paid family leave that its citizens enjoy.
I think that the United States should definitely expand national paid family leave. People should not jeopardize their health or their family's health over fear of losing their job. Also studies from the employers after employees took advantage of their leaves felt that it was a positive experience on productivity, turnover, and morale.
Imposing federal regulations regarding paid leave on businesses will especially harm small businesses operating at the margin. Furthermore, they can make employers less willing to hire female workers or lower their salaries, contributing to the gender pay gap. Instead pay leave should be something discussed between employers and their employees.
National paid family leave should not be expanded. This is a program that is very costly to business as the person on leave will have to have someone else perform their work. This is a program that can be terribly abused and needs to be monitored very closely. An expansion would not be a good idea.