When my efforts to change this internally failed, I took legal action
and launched a public battle, which garnered all sorts of media coverage
. Ultimately, the company revolutionized its policy, creating a win-win.
In the course of learning all I could about what families are going through, I came to see that a crucial part of the solution is paid family and medical leave.
Currently, only 17 percent
of workers have paid family leave through their jobs, which the U.S. government defines
as “leave to care for a newborn child, an adopted child, a sick child, or a sick adult relative.” But a growing number
of states are providing paid family leave through insurance-based systems.
Workers, and in some cases, businesses, make tiny contributions to a fund through payroll deductions. When a worker needs this leave to care for a loved one or to recover from illness themselves, they receive pay from the fund. The results
: business profits are up, and more women and men remain in the workforce. Most importantly, families and children benefit. Many moms in these states now finally have paid maternity leave. Fathers take paternity leave in greater numbers and for longer blocks of time.
We need this nationally. It’s time we ensure that parents can be home with a child without sacrificing the ability to put food on the table, and that all working people can care for loved ones (and get critical care themselves) in times of need.
That’s why my push for paid leave didn’t stop after my own experience. I now advocate across the country and around the world, including at the United Nations and on Capitol Hill. And I encourage other men and fathers to do the same.