By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK, Feb 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Efforts to
pay employees staying home to care for family in the United
States got a boost on Tuesday with a legislative proposal that
would benefit workers, especially women tending to children and
The United States stands alone among developed nations with
its lack of paid family leave, and the proposed Family Act would
bring policy in line with other countries, supporters say.
The proposal would establish a national insurance program to
provide workers with up to 12 weeks paid leave per year for the
birth of a child, adoption or care for a seriously ill family
The United States is the only country among 41 nations that
does not mandate any paid leave for new parents, according to
the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Other nations have paid leave ranging from about two months
to more than a year, OECD data shows.
The lack of paid leave in the United States hits women
Nearly a quarter of new U.S. mothers go back to work within
two weeks of giving birth, according to Debra Ness, head of the
National Partnership for Women & Families.
Women who take time off to care for children or elderly
relatives lose an average of $300,000 from their lifetime
earnings and retirement savings, Ness said.
The proposal introduced in the U.S. Congress has scores of
co-sponsors among Democrats but none yet among the more
conservative Republican party that controls both legislative
houses, said lawmakers introducing the bill.
President Donald Trump, a Republican, has voiced support for
six weeks paid maternity leave for biological mothers.
His proposal did not apply to men nor did it include paid
leave to care for a seriously ill family member.
The Family Act would be gender-neutral and apply to adoptive
parents and same-sex couples.
Funding would come from employer and employee contributions,
and the average worker would pay $1.50 per week, supporters say.
"Too many American workers are not paid enough to make ends
meet, and losing weeks worth of wages in order to care for and
deal with the challenge of this magnitude when a loved one is
ill would push families over the edge and some passed the point
of no return," said Representative Rosa DeLauro, one of the
lawmakers who introduced the bill.
Tuesday marked the third time the Family Act has been
proposed in Congress since 2013, according to DeLauro's office.
Previous versions failed to gain support among Republicans,
the office said.
Opponents say the proposal would hurt businesses, especially
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Astrid Zweynert.
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