Labor Department spending $1.5M on paid leave

The Labor Department is funneling $1.55 million to help state and local governments explore paid leave policies.

This is part of a larger push by the Obama administration to implement paid leave policies for all workers, “so when their child gets sick, they don’t have to choose between the job that they need and the child they love,” according to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.

“Too many workers lack even a single day of paid leave to care for the ones they love,” Perez said Tuesday during a press call.

“The absence of paid leave keeps millions of families up at night, because it makes it much harder for them to make ends meet,” he added.

President Obama earlier this year signed an order granting six weeks of paid leave to federal employees after the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child in their family.

But only 12 percent of private sector workers have access to similar paid leave policies, according to the Labor Department.

The United States and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that do not offer paid maternity leave, according to the International Labor Organization.

While federal law protects the jobs of workers who take time off to care for newborn children and seriously ill family members, many workers cannot afford to do so because they do not get paid during that time.

The Labor Department is encouraging states to move forward with paid leave policies on their own.

The Labor Department announced Tuesday it is awarding paid leave grants to eight state and local governments, including California, Washington state, Tennessee, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York City and Montgomery County, Md.

This follows $500,000 in paid leave grants that agency awarded to Montana, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia in 2014.

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