Rep. Dingell, Mothering Justice, State Rep. Geiss Outline Urgent Need for Paid Family & Medical Leave in Taylor
TAYLOR, MI – U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today joined Danielle Atkinson of Mothering Justice, State Representative Erika Geiss, and Michigan parents, educators and small business owners for a roundtable discussion about the urgent need for comprehensive paid leave and paid sick days programs. The event brought together a diversity of perspectives to outline solutions that will help working families, businesses and the economy.
“At some point, nearly everyone will need to take time off work to care for a new baby, recover from an illness, or care for a sick or aging family member,” said Dingell. “But today, 41 million people – 36 percent of the workforce – do not have a single paid sick day, and only 14 percent have access to paid leave through their employer. For these individuals, taking time off often means choosing between a paycheck and taking care of themselves or their family. No one should have to make that choice. With people working hard to make ends meet, it’s time our national policies provide the support needed to manage the demands of work and family.”
"Everyone of us has been sick, it is universal. But far too many people - when illness and economic reality meet - are forced to choose between a paycheck they need and the people they love," said Atkinson. "It's time to pass The Healthy Families Act and The FAMILY Act."
“The time for earned paid sick time is long overdue,” said Geiss. “That's why I'm proud to fight for this issue every day in Lansing. The stories I hear around my district show that working people believe that no one should have to choose between taking care of an illness or work."
"As a teacher, I see firsthand what happens when students come to school sick because their parents do not have the ability to stay home with them,” said Taylor Elementary School teacher Jessica Madden. “Children who are sick should be at home getting well and earned paid sick time policies will help ensure that they can."
"As a restaurant owner, I believe that workers deserve paid time off when they are sick,” said Godwin Ihentuge, founder of YumVillage. “The restaurant industry has helped lead to the economic growth we are experiencing in the Detroit area and it's time that restaurant workers shared in that prosperity. Earned paid sick time policies would be a step in the right direction."
"When a baby is born, we are filled with hope and a sense of pride and responsibility to provide for them. But, in reality, we don’t do enough for new mothers when it comes to paid time off to care for themselves or their children,” said doula Olivia Harper. “I support policies that give new mothers the chance to take paid time off to take a sick baby to the doctor or even a healthy baby visit."
Dingell is working to address these issues in Congress by passing The Healthy Families Act and The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act to provide paid time off for individuals to recover from an illness or welcome a new child. The Healthy Families Act guarantees workers the right to earn up to seven paid sick days to care for themselves or a loved one who is sick, or to take time off to address domestic violence. The FAMILY Act ensures that workers can take paid family and medical leave when they need it to care for a new child or for themselves or a relative with a serious health condition.
These comprehensive polices would help workers achieve a better balance between work and family life. The world has changed a lot in the last 30 to 40 years, but the workplace has not:
- In more than 60 percent of households with children, all adults are working. But the United States has failed to adopt federal workplace policies that reflect this reality.
- The U.S. remains the world's only wealthy nation that does not mandate a minimum of paid sick leave, vacation leave or parental leave.
- Nationally, 41 million private sector workers – 36 percent of the workforce – do not have access to any sick leave at all. Millions more workers cannot earn paid sick time they can use to care for a sick child or family member.
- According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, if all workers had access to paid sick days, emergency room visits would decline by 1.3 million visits a year, saving $1.1 billion annually. More than half of those savings would be to public health insurance programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- Without basic protections like paid sick days and paid family leave, many working parents are one illness or accident away from losing their jobs.