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Paid Family Leave is Necessary for All Philadelphia Families

Posted on April 28, 2023
Child and parent holding hands, text reading paid family leave

By Natalie Shaak, Operations Manager

On May 4, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article by Lizzy McLellan Ravitch on the lack of paid family leave for Philadelphia teachers. It highlighted an important issue relevant to a large number of Philadelphia workers outside of just teachers who are forced to cobble together vacation and sick time (if available) to take care of their families.

Nationwide, only 86 percent of full-time workers and half of part-time workers have access to paid sick time. In Philadelphia, while local law requires paid sick time at businesses with 10 or more employees, that provision offers just 40 hours (5 days) of paid time off, which is inadequate for healing and bonding after the childbirth. Roughly half of American workers have access to unpaid leave through FMLA and less than a quarter of private industry workers have access to paid family leave. Even though a vast majority of people in America support offering it, the U.S. remains one of just two high income countries worldwide that does provide paid family leave nationally.

As outlined in a recent policy brief released by the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health, extensive research concludes that paid family leave positively impacts adult and child mental, physical, and financial health and can have long-term impacts on family wellbeing. Outside of the obvious impacts on infant and maternal mortality and re-hospitalization, paid family leave has been shown to reduce instances of domestic violence and postpartum depression, improve student academic performance, improve coparenting, and reduce the risk of many long-term health problems in children and adults such as obesity, asthma, and diabetes. Paid leave is essential for advancing health, gender, and racial equity in communities and reducing the gender pay gap.

Family leave is essential outside of just childbirth. More than 53 million U.S. adults (one in five) provide care to children with special needs or adult family members, due to the aging U.S. population and healthcare and long-term care workforce shortages. Black, Hispanic, and Asian workers are less likely to have access to paid leave despite a higher likelihood of living in multigenerational homes.

The benefits of paid leave also extend to businesses through creating positive workplace culture, supporting retention and productivity, and reducing absenteeism. Many arguments against paid family leave focus on fiscal impact, reduction in jobs, or impact on small businesses. However, research shows that this is not the case. For many businesses, offering paid family leave has had no effect on profitability and the benefits outweigh any additional cost. For example, the reduction in staff turnover reduces recruitment, hiring, and training expenses.

The U.S. will continue to trail the rest of world in child and maternal mortality and overall health until robust supports, including paid family leave, are in place for all families. Until comprehensive federal and/or state paid leave laws are passed, it is up to the Philadelphia School District and other local businesses to take responsibility for the wellbeing of workers through offering paid family leave.

Posted in Policy Impact, natalie-shaak, Financial Health, Health and Wellbeing