U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and a coalition of 14 Senators to call on the Biden Administration to remain firm in its commitment to paid leave by advancing a national paid family and medical leave program in the FY2024 budget. In the letter, the Senators call for a guarantee of up to 12 weeks of paid parental, family caregiving and personal medical leave to all working people in the United States.
“We thank President Biden for his commitment to expanding paid leave and urge that the administration’s FY24 budget request meaningfully reflect that commitment. The United States is the world’s only industrialized nation that does not guarantee workers paid leave, even though nearly all workers will need to take time away from work at some point to address a serious illness or to care for a new child,” wrote the Senators. “It is of the utmost importance that we invest in our nation’s workers and families through paid family and medical leave programs to provide much-needed financial security, cost-savings for businesses, reductions in government public assistance expenditures, and stimulation for local economies. We look forward to working together on this important issue to promote the financial well-being of working families and the vibrancy of the economy.”
“We applaud the Biden Administration for including paid leave in its economic agenda and its previous budgets, and we were so encouraged to hear the President commit to a renewed push on paid leave for all workers in all industries last month,” said Dawn Huckelbridge, the Director at Paid Leave for All. “As we start a new year and mark a new Congress and state legislative sessions, we are thrilled that state legislators, governors, and members of Congress are putting paid leave at the top of their agenda, unions are making it a priority, and support from voters has never been higher. We are optimistic about paid leave’s momentum and hope that will be reflected in the FY24 budget.”
“All U.S. workers deserve the security of knowing they will have paid family and medical leave no matter their job or employer, the state they live in, or their serious care need,” said Vicki Shabo, the Senior Fellow for Paid Leave Policy and Strategy and Better Life Lab at New America. “Today, only a minority of workers have this assurance. Paid leave strengthens families, builds a stronger and more diverse labor force, and boosts businesses. The Senators’ request today to the Office of Management and Budget to propose fully-funded permanent, national paid leave in its Fiscal Year 2024 budget reflects a serious commitment to facilitate the support that workers, families, businesses and our economy need.”
“Everyone at some point in their lives will need time to care for themselves or their families, yet 30 years after the Family and Medical Leave Act, many workers still must make the impossible choice between caring for themselves or their loved ones and their livelihoods,” said Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Paid leave is a racial, gender, and disability justice issue. It keeps workers in the labor force, reduces turnover and increases consumer spending. At a time when women’s labor force participation has declined, despite a strong job market, we need policies that will help women workers stay in the workforce without putting their families or their own health at risk. If U.S. women participated in the labor force at the same rates as our peer countries, we could add $650 billion to the economy annually. A budget is a moral document, and it is imperative that the administration reaffirm its commitment to a national paid family and medical leave program by including it in its FY2024 budget.”
Along with Duckworth and Gillibrand, the letter is co-signed by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
A copy of the full letter can be found here and below:
Dear Director Young,
We are grateful to the Biden administration for its commitment to paid family and medical leave. As you complete work on the administration’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2024, we are writing to urge you to include $547 billion in mandatory, permanent spending over 10 years to provide resources sufficient to establish a national paid family and medical leave program that would guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid parental, family caregiving, and personal medical leave to all working people in the United States.
While nearly all workers will need to take time away from work at some point in their lives to address a serious personal or family illness or to care for a new child, just 24 percent of the workforce has access to employer-provided paid family leave, and just four in 10 have personal medical leave through an employer’s short-term disability insurance program. For most workers, with the notable exceptions of those in select states that have forged a path forward on paid leave, a person’s access to paid leave is entirely dependent upon their employer’s generosity. For middle- and low-income workers in particular, access to paid family and medical leave is all too rare, but even the highest wage workers are more likely than not to be without paid family leave. When people cannot afford to take the time they need to care for themselves or a family member, working people, their families, businesses, and the United States economy suffer.
As you well know, the United States is the world’s only industrialized nation that does not guarantee workers the ability to take paid leave to care for a loved one or for themself. We thank President Biden for his commitment to expanding paid leave to rectify this state of affairs, and accordingly urge that the administration’s FY24 budget request meaningfully reflect that commitment. It is of the utmost importance that we take strides towards this investment in our nation’s workers and families through paid family and medical leave programs to provide much-needed financial security, cost-savings for businesses, reductions in government public assistance expenditures, and stimulation for local economies.
We urge your Office to support this request to help promote the financial well-being of working families and the vibrancy of the economy. Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you on this important matter.