On January 15 President Obama signed an executive order to give up to six weeks of paid leave to all federal employees when a new child arrives and publicly called on Congress to pass a federal law guaranteeing seven days of paid sick leave for all Americans.
President Obama’s executive order is in line with his strategy of changing the law when he can by executive order to get around the GOP controlled congress. He is also putting pressure on congress to follow his lead.
There is no way the Republicans will pass a bill of any sort requiring an employer to provide paid leave. However President Obama is letting the GOP show the American people how little they care about people who don’t run a big business.
As part of the announcement President Obama directed the Department of Labor to provide money to states or municipalities that want to institute paid leave policies. Currently 17 states and the District of Columbia have some form of required paid sick leave.
The GOP is giving their standard job killing bs. There are a number of studies that indicate paid leave increases productivity leading to higher profits. This might be because, for example, if workers know they can schedule paid leave to care for themselves or for family, it reduces distraction while they are on the job. Mary Eschelbach Hansen, an economist at American University told the LA Times studies of the unpaid leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 show that when employees take time off to care for a sick family member, it speeds the relative’s recovery time. Dr. Hansen also reported Cities with paid sick leave, including San Francisco, saw no negative economic effect of adopting such a law. Compared with nearby cities that did not have paid leave employment in a number of businesses in San Francisco went up after the law’s implementation.
Because of Republican control of congress and so many state legislatures there is almost no chance of this proposal becoming law on the federal level or spreading to GOP controlled states.
Paid leave is good for the employees, employers, and customers. Let’s hope there is a move toward instituting paid leave for all employees after 2016.