Earnest makes case for paid leave

Congress should pass paid-leave legislation to facilitate parents spending more time with their young children, White House press secretary Josh Earnest argued Wednesday.

Speaking at an event on fatherhood and work-life balance at the Center for American Progress, Earnest argued that lawmakers need to move on legislation proposed by the president in his State of the Union address that would require corporations to offer seven paid sick days per year.

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The president's proposed bill would also offer federal workers an additional six weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave.

"It actually turns out it's good for business," Earnest argued, adding that employees granted time with their children "feel like they're supported by their employer."

"They're going to get much more commitment and loyalty," Earnest said.

President Obama moved earlier this year to offer federal employees additional paid sick leave executive action. But some Republicans have resisted the White House's call for broader legislation, saying it would prove too costly for businesses.

Earnest, who had his first child last fall, said he had learned at the White House that even with a generous leave policy, parents have to prioritize making time for their kids.

"Nobody's going to make me leave other than me," Earnest said.

The press secretary said that while he had "bosses who are supportive" of his desire to play a larger role in parenting, he was conflicted about leaving the office.

"There are plenty of reasons to stay past 5:20," Earnest said.

 

This post was updated at 2:09 p.m.