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Comic explainer: Illustrating the need for paid leave

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An illustration of four different people standing beside each other dressed for their different jobs, including a construction worker, a barista, a nurse, and a janitor.
Illustration by Sarah Mirk


Illustration by Sarah Mirk
During times when they and their families need help the most, millions of Americans face a terrible question can I afford to take time off?.A diversity of people who clearly work in different jobs: A hotel maid, a store clerk, a nurse, a construction worker, an office-worker.
Illustration by Sarah Mirk
New parents also face the same cruel calculus. A Black couple and an elderly grandma sit at their kitchen table, looking over paperwork.
Illustration by Sarah Mirk
The U.S. is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid leave—meaning people lose pay or their jobs if they need time off to welcome a new child or deal with a serious personal or family member’s medical condition. A server, a white woman, holds a tray of food with one hand while she listens to a new voicemail from her mother’s doctor with a scary prognosis.
Illustration by Sarah Mirk
Only one in five private-sector workers has paid family leave through their employer. Among low-wage workers, it’s one in 10. The same server talking to her boss, a white male, about taking time off to care for her mother.
Illustration by Sarah Mirk
Unpaid caregiving work disproportionately falls to women—especially women of color. When the pandemic hit, nearly one in four women who left the workforce did so to take care of someone. A frazzled Latinx woman with a new baby sitting on the floor surrounded by her two older kids, kids’ toys, a laptop, and school papers. The five-year-old plays with a toy plane while a 10-year-old daughter holds up a phone in annoyance.
Illustration by Sarah Mirk
But change is possible. We’re in a critical moment in history. Nine states and Washington, D.C., have passed paid leave laws. Now, the White House and Congress have the chance to establish a national paid family and medical leave program. A diverse group of people at a rally waving signs that read, “Family values = paid leave” “Paid leave for all.” “I shouldn’t have to choose between my job and my health or my family.”
Illustration by Sarah Mirk
a.	It’s no surprise that the vast majority of Americans support paid leave. . Pie chart showing support for paid medical leave from Data for Progress:  75% of Americans support all workers having paid family and medical leave.
Illustration by Sarah Mirk
A national paid leave policy is about gender equality, racial justice, public health, a strong economy, and basic dignity.A middle-aged woman caring for her elderly dad, who is in a wheelchair, while also getting a message from work on her phone.
Illustration by Sarah Mirk
The family from panel three, with their new baby. All three adults crowd around to admire the baby. In the future, no one should have to choose between a job and caring for their health or family.
Illustration by Sarah Mirk