Only 14% of civilian workers in the United States have access to paid family leave, making America the only industrialized country in the world without a federal paid leave policy. Instead, it’s a state-level issue, with a mere seven states, and Washington, D.C., mandating it (Iowa is not one of them).
The 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act [FMLA] offers 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for newborns or seriously ill family members, for employees who have worked at least a year for a company with 50 or more employees. This unpaid leave covers 60% of workers in the U.S., but few take advantage of it because they can’t afford to go a quarter of a year without a paycheck.
PL+US Action is a non-profit advocacy organization working toward the goal of paid family leave for all families in the U.S. by 2022. PL+US Action hopes to transform politics, policy and people to create a better working environment in America, collaborating with political candidates and legislators to elevate the issue and create more effective policies on behalf of working families.
Paid family leave came up at the Democratic debate last week in Atlanta. There was a split between the progressive and moderate wings of the party who pushed for differing lengths of paid leave.
PL+US Action Goal
“No one should have to choose between an income and their family. Yet in our country today doing what is right for your family comes at too high a price. That’s why PL+US Action is committed to winning the best public policies for working families so that no one is forced to make that impossible choice and no one is left behind,” its website states.
The general policy goals it works toward are listed below:
- Six months of paid leave
- 100% wage replacement for the lowest-income people
- Parental, caregiving, and medical leave
- All working people, including those in the gig economy
- Social insurance
- Job protections
Grading Presidential Candidates
PL+US Action uses a 100-point scoring system for its grades and give points based solely on published, public plans, not on comments made during debates or other settings.
Points, out of 100, are awarded on these criteria:
- 20 points – paid family leave in campaign platform and website
- 15 points – past support for paid leave in other positions [elected or not]
- 15 points – caregiving leave, which is frequently left out of the paid leave conversation
- 10 points – up to 6 months of paid leave
- 10 points – job protections for employees
- 10 points – gender-neutral leave
- 10 points – full wage replacement for low-income workers
- 10 points – first 100 days priority
Here are the grades in order of total score [alphabetical order when scores are tied].
- Sen. Michael Bennet – 100/100
- Sen. Cory Booker – 100/100
- Gov. Steve Bullock – 100/100
- Sen. Kamala Harris – 100/100
- Sen. Bernie Sanders – 100/100
- Tom Steyer – 100/100
- Marianne Williamson – 100/100
- Former Secretary Julian Castro – 90/100
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg – 80/100
- Former Rep. John Delaney – 80/100
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar – 80/100
- Former Vice President Joe Biden – 70/100
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard – 70/100
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren – 70/100
- President Donald Trump – 65/100
- Andrew Yang – 40/100
- Former Rep. Joe Sestak – 20/100
- Former Gov. Bill Weld – 15/100
- Former Rep. Joe Walsh – 0/100
By Josh Cook