Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Taking action on FMLA

I sent the following email to the U.S. Department of Labor, which is seeking comments on the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Subject: Don't scale back FMLA, expand it

U.S. Department of Labor,

I heard from MomsRising that corporate opposition may threaten the U.S. Department of Labor's Family Medical Leave Act, and I want to add my voice to the chorus of women and men who don't just want the law maintained--we want it expanded to provide paid leave to working parents.

I had my first child in 2004 and I am expecting my second in 2007. I needed those 3 months at home to bond with my new baby, establish a routine and physically and emotionally adjust to parenthood. Six or eight weeks of disability simply wouldn't have been sufficient.

I am fortunate that I was able to budget for the unpaid portion of my leave, but I know not all workers are in such a position. If our country is as family-focused as we claim to be, we should give all infants the healthy start they need--a 3-6 months with their parents. And those parents need the financial security of paid leave to make that happen.

A Harvard study of 168 countries found that only 4 don't offer some form of paid leave for new mothers. Our country shares that honor with the likes of Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and Lesotho--hardly the most progressive places on the planet.

FMLA is good policy for families, for our children, and for businesses. The most successful companies in the country are those that haven't waited for government legislation; they've attracted and retained the best employees with generous maternity and paternity leave policies.