Advocates call for universal paid family leave post-pandemic

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — More people are advocating to expand access to paid family leave post-pandemic.

One of the nation’s largest foundations focused on public health is pushing for universal paid family leave.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) says this would go beyond helping financially. It would also improve health for millions of employees, their families, women, and people of color.

Currently, the U.S. does not require companies to offer paid leave for employees.

A recent study done by the foundation shows about 80%, or 100 million, employees do not have a single day of paid time off after birth or adoption.

The pandemic is drawing more attention to employees trying to maintain a job on top of caring for a child, family member, or spouse who may be sick.

“Nearly every worker in this country at some time will have to take a day off for work, and the economic benefits are huge. Being able to take that day off without sacrificing a paycheck for many workers is the difference of putting food on the table or not, being able to pay rent or not,” Avenel Joseph, Ph.D., Vice President of Policy RWJF, said.

The RWJF found that paid leave is less accessible to workers in low-wage jobs and of color.

The research found 34% percent of U.S. workers in the highest wage brackets have access to paid family leave through their employers. That’s compared to only 7% of workers in the lowest wage bracket and 6% of service workers.

“From a health perspective, paid family leave gives parents more time for bonding with a new child, which we know is key to healthy child development, and those healthy indicators at the time of infancy last throughout their lifetime,” Johnson said.

The philanthropy says paid family leave should be universally accessible instead of based on where workers are employed.

For more on the group’s push for paid family leave, click here.

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