Paid Leave Laws Gain Steam

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Need time off to care for a new child or a sick relative? Laws about paid leave may be changing. (AP)
Need time off to care for a new child or a sick relative? Laws about paid leave may be changing. (AP)

President Obama last night in his State of the Union Address, called for many congressional action on many things. One of the few that received bipartisan applause was for a call to change workplace rules about workers' time off.

"A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And, you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men," Obama said.

The President was talking about a couple of things there, include equal pay for women. But in many ways, U.S. labor laws pre-date the Mad Men era of the 1960's.

Many labor rules and practices date to the 1930's, when the average family was a stay-at-home mom, and a dad work 9 to 5. The problem with the modern family where both parents usually work outside the home, is that it's prohibitively expensive for many people to take time off to have a child, recover from a serious illness, or care for a sick relative.

In fact, the United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee workers access to any form of paid time off.

But there's growing momentum around the country to change that. This month, Rhode Island became the third state to offer workers paid family leave. Newark and New York are two cities that are mandating paid sick leave for city workers.

Last month, bills were introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate that would create a family medical leave insurance program, which could be used by mothers and fathers of new children, for relatives caring for other relatives, and for workers to recover from serious illness.


Sarah Jane Glynn, she's the Associate Director of the Women’s Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress.

Bill Vernon, Massachusetts Director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Kay Khan, state representative from Newton.

This segment aired on January 29, 2014.


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