Business & Lobbying

Business coalition urges Congress to pass paid family leave

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A coalition of large and small businesses will meet with members of Congress this week in a push for a national paid family and medical leave policy.

Paid family leave advocates organized the virtual fly-in, dubbed Businesses for Paid Leave Week of Action, to make the case that the policy would boost U.S. businesses.

“Business leaders will share with key legislative leaders the positive benefits of paid leave, from supporting diversity and inclusion to attracting and retaining a productive workforce,” Paid Leave for the U.S. spokesman Neil Sroka told The Hill. “For small businesses, a federal policy is critical for leveling the playing field and ensuring all businesses can compete equally.”

President Biden called on Congress to guarantee workers 12 weeks of paid family leave as part of his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. His proposal would spend $225 billion to help cover wages for workers who are welcoming a new child, suffering from an illness or facing other circumstances.

Advocates aim to ensure the paid family proposal isn’t lost in the shuffle as Democrats debate how to pass Biden’s priorities. They’re also pitching it to lawmakers who are hesitant to support new mandates on businesses, such as Republicans and moderate Democrats.

“The highly targeted meetings ensure that the Congressional decision makers who will be key to passing federal policy hear the strong business case for paid family and medical leave from the small and large business leaders who know it best,” Sroka said.

Roughly 21 percent of working people in the U.S. have access to paid family leave through their employers, according to a 2020 survey from the Labor Department. The U.S. is the only developed nation that doesn’t mandate paid parental leave.

Executives from major companies such as Levi Strauss, Stitch Fix and Patagonia will speak with members of Congress as part of the fly-in, as will small-business owners.

“Without paid leave, things unraveled at my business during COVID and I had to let two employees go,” said Portia Jones, the co-owner of Mad Skillz Salon in Phoenix, Ariz. “A permanent paid leave option would have helped my business avoid this setback.”

The National Federation of Independent Businesses is carrying a different message to lawmakers in its own virtual fly-in this week. The small business group is telling its members to oppose “tax hikes and new mandates proposed by the White House, and hold members of Congress accountable if they support those proposals.” 

Tags Businesses for Paid Leave Week of Action Joe Biden Paid Family Leave

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