Pediatricians: 'Congress Needs to Pass Paid Leave Act for Families'
The Family Act would create a fund for 12 weeks of paid leave.
More than 66,000 doctors from the American Academy of Pediatrics (A.A.P.) and the Pediatric Policy Council (P.P.C.) want employees across the United States to be able to take time off from work so they can care for themselves or family members when a medical issue occurs.
The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, known as the FAMILY Act, would establish a fund that provides workers with 66 percent wage-replacement for 12 weeks a year. This would cover a variety of medical situations including the birth or adoption of a child, recovery from an illness or caring for a sick family member.
The endorsements from the A.A.P. and the P.P.C. are just two more in a long line of growing support of the bill. Over the past several years, executives and business leaders from companies like Morgan Stanley, VICE Media and YouTube have publicly endorsed the proposal. Care.com CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo has written about Care.com's support for the bill, and music streaming service Spotify endorsed the FAMILY Act in fall 2016.
"When parents cannot afford to take time off from work to care for their children, it's the children who suffer the most," said American Academy of Pediatrics President Fernando Stein, M.D., F.A.A.P.
The A.A.P. and the P.P.C. urged Congress to set aside politics and work together to ensure the bill becomes law.
"All parents should be able to bond with and care for their young children during the critical first months of life and if their children fall ill, no matter what state they live in," Stein said.
The organizations are made up of thousands of doctors including primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists. In their own words the doctors are "dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults."
"From higher rates of vaccination to increased breastfeeding to improved maternal mental health, the evidence is clear: paid leave has essential benefits for children and parents in the early weeks and months of life," said Pediatric Policy Council Chairman Dr. Paul Chung.
In addition to helping parents navigate the crucial time after a baby is born or adopted, the FAMILY Act would also provide a legitimate resource for working parents who are forced to juggle a million things when a family member gets sick.
"Research also shows that when children become seriously ill, having a parent there to care for them can have a marked effect on recovery," Chung said. "Yet, just 14 percent of civilian U.S. workers have access to paid family leave."
The plan, introduced for the third time by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, (D-Conn.), would task employees and employers with contributions for the fund. The average American worker would pay $1.50 a week to the fund. A small price for the ability to handle a medical crisis without the added stress of worrying about work.
"As a working mom," Gillibrand told the Times Union, she gets how the lack of paid leave gives families "an awful choice that no American family should have to make. They either quit their job and lose their income or be by their family member's side."
The FAMILY Act was inspired and created after successful paid family programs in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, the primary care physicians noted.
"The FAMILY Act builds on a foundation of experience and success," the medical professionals wrote.
Gillibrand said statistics from California showed 87 percent of people didn't see an increase in their expenses because of a similar plan. Additionally, 91 percent reported an overall positive effect from the paid family leave program.
"[It's] not a Democrat or Republican issue," Gillibrand said. "It affects people in all states."