Paid family leave and other family-friendly policies are good for children, good for families, good for public health and, as Gov. O'Malley noted, good for the economy. In the states that have adopted paid leave – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island – both employers and employees report benefiting from the law. And in recent months, we've heard from companies like Netflix, Microsoft, Adobe, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and others about their recently adopted generous paid leave policies for moms and dads. These policies aren't always perfect, but the idea that companies should be providing these supports for families – from 12 weeks to 52 weeks of fully paid leave – comes from the understanding that these policies are not only the right thing to do, but also good for business and retaining great employees.
We can't rely on companies to do it alone, or too many people will be left behind – especially low-income families who need paid leave the most. That's why presidential candidates are taking the matter into their hands. In the Democratic debate, Sec. Clinton pointed to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as a champion of this issue. The Family Act, the bill championed by Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), would guarantee paid leave to care for new children and those with serious illnesses. With the right candidate, paid family and medical leave could finally become a reality in 2017.
Commentary by Vivien Labaton, co-founder and co-director of MakeIt Work, a campaign to advance economic security for working women, men and families. Follow her on Twitter at @vivienlab.