President Barack Obama will outline a broad plan on Thursday to help states establish paid leave programs and to fund Labor Department feasibility studies on paid leave.
Obama is calling on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow workers to earn an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they work.
“This is not a partisan issue. This is a family issue and an economic issue,” says White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett announced the President’s intent on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
Currently, workers are granted up to 12 weeks leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. However, Jarrett says most employers make that leave unpaid. Meaning that many workers can’t afford to take leave when they need it.
“It means that more sick children are in school because no-one can afford to stay home with them, and it means that fewer parents are taking the necessary time to bond with new babies or care for their aging parents,” says Jarrett.
Jarrett says the President will also ask Congress for a $2 billion incentive fund to help states to create their own paid leave programs.
But, James Sherk, a Senior Policy Analyst with the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation says the President’s proposal would effectively cut workers’ pay.
“The way businesses respond when the government requires them to provide a benefit is, first they provide the benefit, but secondly they take the cost of that benefit out of workers’ pay.”
The President also plans to take executive action giving federal employees up to 6 weeks of paid leave for the birth, or adoption, of a child.
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