Will Paid Parental Leave Soon Become a Reality in the U.S.?

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Parents and an infant
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It seems there’s finally something that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on: The U.S. needs paid parental leave.

A new family leave proposal issued by a working group from the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank, and the Brookings Institution, a center-left research group, might provide the groundwork for implementing such a policy.

The plan outlined by the working group in “Paid Family and Medical Leave: An Issue Whose Time Has Come” calls for “gender-neutral paid parental leave.” It allows new parents to receive eight weeks of job-protected paid leave. New parents would be entitled to 70 percent of their wages — up to $600 a week — during that time.

The proposal would be funded in part through what the AEI-Brookings report describes as a “modest increase” in payroll taxes, as well as spending cuts in the federal budget.

The U.S. stands alone as the only developed country in the world that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents, even though research shows that the majority of Americans are in favor of such a policy.

Democrats have long supported paid leave for new parents. Now that President Donald Trump has included paid leave in his budget plan, there is bipartisan interest in moving forward.

But finding a plan that everyone supports requires a lot of compromise.

Aparna Mathur, a resident scholar at AEI, says although “nobody’s entirely happy” with the proposal, “it’s the only thing everybody could come on board for.”

“There are two ends and we tried to find a middle ground,” Mathur says.

According to The New York Times, Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveal that a mere 13 percent of private-sector workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave. But the advantages of a paid leave policy for new parents are clear, says the Times.

Most parents work, and paid leave has been shown to make it more likely that women continue to work. It has also been shown to improve economic growth, babies’ health and development, and gender equity.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, many American workers are eligible for up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave. The legislation applies to workers at all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees.

What do you think of the paid parental leave proposal? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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