Advocacy group launches campaign to press Congress on paid family leave

A national advocacy group is putting six figures behind a new ad campaign pressuring Congress to include paid family and sick leave in the COVID-19 relief package.

The ad from PL+US, which will run in Washington, D.C., during MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and CNN’s “The Situation Room,” features emotional testimony from paid family leave advocate Mai Ton recounting her personal experience of having a newborn child at a time when her father was dying.

“This pandemic has definitely taught us about taking care of each other,” Ton says. “I can tell you from experience the year I had my daughter, I lost my dad. Emma was growing, whereas my father was fading, and so they would take naps together holding hands. I still get emotional talking about it. You don’t go to work leaving everything behind. We’re all going to go through life and death after this pandemic. We can’t go back to normal.”

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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act from last year included up to 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave for some workers at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay rate.

That rule expired on Dec. 31.

PL+US and other left-leaning groups are urging Biden to expand on that by providing at least six months of paid leave to all worker types, expanding access to medical and caregiving needs, allowing for incremental leave, ensuring wage replacement of at least 80 percent and guaranteeing job protection and anti-retaliation protections.

“Congress let emergency leave expire in December, despite the simple fact that it saved lives and helped flatten the COVID curve,” said Katie Bethell, founder and executive director of PL+US Action. “With new COVID variants surging across the country and families reaching the breaking point, working people need paid leave back and they need it back now.”