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Paid Leave Policies Not Just About Working Moms

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Tuesday, November 16, 2021   

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Congress is close to passing the Build Back Better plan, and policy groups are hopeful a provision to ensure more Ohioans can access paid leave will remain.

The social-spending plan initially offered 12 weeks of paid leave for workers, which has since been scaled down to four weeks.

Elizabeth Brown, executive director of the Ohio Women's Public Policy Network, explained 72% of Ohio households with kids have two parents working, and one in four moms return to their jobs within 10 days after having a baby.

She noted paid leave is not just about working mothers, but also working daughters.

"Workers in our economy are not just responsible for providing care for their children but also their parents, their spouses, their siblings as our economy ages," Brown observed. "And women's wages support their household. In Ohio, 55% of mothers are key family breadwinners."

In Ohio, about one in five workers have paid family leave, and only two in five can access unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Kate McCleese, senior campaign manager for Paid Leave for the United States, contended paid leave, including personal medical leave, promotes workforce participation and results in better health for workers.

"Just think about the difference that access to paid leave would have on people undergoing cancer treatments or who are forced to leave their job just to have a necessary surgery," McCleese urged. "Paid leave ties you to the workforce and your health insurance."

It's estimated roughly 18 million workers per year would benefit from the proposed paid-leave program in Congress.

McCleese added it would reduce disparities in the workforce.

"At the beginning of this pandemic, only 25% of workers had access to any amount of paid leave," McCleese outlined. "And it was way worse for low-wage workers who are disproportionately people of color. Only 8% of low-wage workers had any type of paid leave."

Ohio is not among the nearly dozen states requiring paid sick leave from private-sector companies.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.


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