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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Hillary’s fight for paid family leave

    Ali Alzeen

    A plan to give eligible employees paid leave to care for family members in need is something the U.S. should have put in place years ago.

    Hillary Clinton announced early in her presidential campaign that one of her policies would include a paid family leave. Her proposal for the Family Leave Act would help families with a new child and families assisting a family member with illness.

    The plan is designed to help both the mother and father of a new child, no matter if the child is from a pregnancy—adoption or foster placement—and to help family members with illness. If passed, the plan would give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave, and the employee would receive two-thirds of his or her normal pay.

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    The proposed plan would be funded by a fair share of taxes, so it would be no additional cost to businesses. Additional taxes for the wealthiest Americans would assist all Americans—even those who might not have been able to afford a day of leave—to care for their families.

    Clinton has been a long-time advocate of family leave from her early days as First Lady. She had some influence in passing the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, working to ensure that it was one of the first major pieces of legislature signed by President Bill Clinton during his first term in office.

    The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which is still in affect today, currently gives eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Though some could afford to take leave if necessary, many Americans cannot afford to take leave from work.

    Since Clinton’s proposal of her plan early on in this election, Republicans have endorsed her idea of a paid family leave, including Senator Marco Rubio.

    Shortly after many Republicans endorsed Clinton’s plan for paid family leave, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced his own policy on paid family leave, focusing on supporting new mothers.

    This would be the first time in a presidential election that both party candidates have laid out a plan for a paid family leave as part of their proposed policies.

    Out of a survey of 41 modernized countries, the U.S. was the only country that gives zero weeks of paid leave.

    If nearly every modern country has a system of paid family leave and we don’t, isn’t that a sign that there’s a need for change?

    Late is better than never. If Clinton’s plan were to be passed, eligible family members, both male and female, would be granted up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

    Putting this act into place would bring a better balance to work and home lives and would reduce the worry and stress many people face when having to choose between working to have money or caring for a family member in need.

    Giving paid leave to both parents when a new child is brought into the family normalizes the idea that both parents are equally important in the life of their child. In many cases of working families, the father takes limited paternity leave. Allowing the parents of a new child to take paid leave would ease the stress of having to get back to work.

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    Having this plan would also normalize the idea of a mother taking maternity leave where she isn’t penalized for wanting to take time off to ensure the well-being of her health and her child’s health.

    With the current Family and Medical Leave Act in place, women often take vacation and sick days during their leave and might receive small amounts of pay. In countries around the world, it’s not uncommon for women, and sometimes men, to be provided with 12 weeks, or even up to 16 or 18 weeks, of paid leave.

    These extended periods of leave are created to reinforce the importance of parents being at home with their families.

    In the case of a situation that needs the attention of a family member, or an unexpected emergency, we’d have the safety net of knowing our finances would be secure for the moment while we figure out our family situations.

    Clinton’s plan allows the American public to better balance their work lives with their home lives. In turn, this would allow a healthier, balanced lifestyle between work and home.

    Follow Leah Gilchrist on Twitter.

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